15 Aug 2016

Carrington determined not to let wind blow her chances

12:40 pm on 15 August 2016

Rio 2016 Olympics -Olympic and world champion paddler Lisa Carrington and her coach don't want to see the wind become the ultimate decider of medals in Rio.

Lisa Carrington

Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

With Carrington's KI 200 heats to begin tomorrow, and the KI 500 the following day, she and coach Gordon Walker are conscious that conditions on the water will be changeable.

"We've gone through [several] paddles now and every one's been different," Walker said.

"And then we're also not on the actual piece of water we'll be racing on. The paddlers have got to be adaptable - you have to go on instincts and not assume it's going to be the perfect water you always imagined."

The paddlers will race on the same water as the rowers did last week, where wind was a real factor, causing the cancellation of the rowing on two days.

Carrington said Rio was a very different proposition compared to her experience at the Olympics four years ago in London, where she won gold. "London was very familiar; coming here is very unfamiliar."

She said the course in Rio was interesting as it was not a "proper" course, in that it was not man-made.

"It has great lane ropes and starting gates and is all very well done, but man-made courses are just a bit easier because we don't have variable conditions, whereas the wind here is very variable. Having those things adds to the challenges of being here," she said.

However, Carrington was philosophical about the extra challenges.

"It does add pressure, but that's what it's all about, and if we shied away from the pressure, then we wouldn't have such great performances."

Walker said the pressure mainly came from the athletes themselves - their own expectations and their own high standards.

"You've got to be balanced, be as objective as you can and not imagine the pressure is going to disappear completely. You've got to sit with it, swim with it and be okay with it," he said.

He said the perfect conditions for the paddling would be "flat and fair".

"We don't want the wind to be handing out the medals."

Carrington has been unbeaten in the K1 200 for five years and has also won a world title in the K1 500. She goes into the K1 200 as a hot favourite, with bookmakers in Britain offering prohibitive odds on her taking the gold.

The other women in the New Zealand kayaking team are Jaimee Lovett, Caitlin Ryan, Aimee Fisher and Kayla Imrie, who will race in the K4 500 event.

Carrington and the women's K4 boat are joined in the New Zealand team by men's K1 1000m paddler Marty McDowell, who is competing at his first Olympics.

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