Tauranga kayaker Mike Dawson is in pole position to qualify a boat for next year's Rio Olympics.
Dawson's clocked the fastest time of the day at the canoe slalom world championships in London, and the 28-year-old moves straight into tomorrow's semi-finals.
A brilliant paddle from Dawson on the tough Lee Valley course got him home in 81.28 seconds, heading an illustrious lineup of the best slalom exponents on the planet.
"That was one of the best runs I've had in a long time and the cool thing was that I just tried to have fun," Dawson said.
"Everything went just as planned and it just felt great - even if I was slower, I would've still been happy with how it felt."
Left in his wake were previous world champions Vavrinec Hradilek (16th qualifier), Peter Kauzer (14th) and reigning Olympic champion Daniele Molmenti (19th).
Defending champion champion Boris Neveu (France) missed the top-30 cut after the first round and had to qualify through the repechage round, while others like top Australian Lucien Delfour missed the semis completely.
The result means that both New Zealand Olympians have made the weekend, with Luuka Jones racing her women's K1 semifinal on Saturday night (NZ time).
Jones and Dawson need to finish in the top-15 nations to qualify spots for Rio, with athletes from 17 countries making the women's semifinal and 22 nations represented in the men's top-40.