18 May 2017

Lisa Carrington backs the team at World Cup opener

3:45 pm on 18 May 2017

New Zealand's top kayakers including Lisa Carrington are focused on the long game as their international season gets underway at the opening World Cup in Portugal this weekend.

Lisa Carrington

Lisa Carrington Photo: Photosport

The eight-strong, all-female New Zealand team includes two K4 boats and various K2 combinations, with Olympic and world champion Carrington opting to focus on team ambitions rather than individual success at the Montemor-o-Velho venue.

Instead, Caitlin Ryan will get a chance to test her K1 500m credentials, while Carrington and Aimee Fisher and Kim Thompson and Rebecca Cole will race the K2 500m heats.

Lisa Carrington (left) and Jaimee Lovett winning the K2 200m title.

Lisa Carrington (left) and Jaimee Lovett in the K2 200. Photo: by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media

National women's coach Rene Olsen said that Sunday's K4 500m - a straight final - is a great place to pick up from last year's historic Olympic fifth-placing, with Carrington replacing the retired Jaimee Lovett and joining Ryan, Fisher and Kayla Imrie.

"Kayla has stepped up strongly from the second seat at the Olympics to be the new driver/stroker and the Olympic girls have formed back together fast in this new K4," Olsen said.

"Lisa has done a great job of adjusting to the bigger boat - she has worked hard to make sure the boat gets the maximum benefit out of her great power - and we're focusing on the long game, using each race as another opportunity to check and adjust the process."

Lisa Carrington second from left has now switched focus to the larger boats for the upcoming ICF World Cup series in Europe.

Lisa Carrington second from left has now switched focus to the larger boats for the upcoming ICF World Cup series in Europe. Photo: Jamie Troughton /supplied

Thompson, Briar McLeely, Cole and Britney Ford will form the second New Zealand quartet, alongside their fellow New Zealand teammates, Mexico, Ukraine, Spain, Great Britain, Hungary and two boats from hosts Portugal.

Of the other Olympic K4 finalists, only fourth-placed Ukraine will return with most of their crew intact, courtesy of Inna Hryshchun, Mariya Povkh and Anastasiya Todorova.

Rio gold medalists Hungary have an under-23 combination, without the likes of Krisztina Fazekas-Zur and Olympic legend Danuta Kozák, while Great Britain (seventh in Rio) have also opted for youth.

That gives Olsen a great chance to see how his young chargers are progressing.

"Our young K4 have really impressed in training and it's going to be really interesting to see them up against some of the top under-23 crews from Hungary and Great Britain on Sunday. For all of them, it's their first World Cup and they will get massive experience out of racing at this level."

Athletes from 27 nations will compete in the Portugal round, with Ryan lining up in the K1 500m heats against the likes of Poland's Marta Walczykiewicz, second to Carrington in the K1 200m at the last four world championships and in Rio.

Imrie and McLeely will line up on Sunday in the K2 200m heats, alongside Fisher and Carrington.

The New Zealand team will return after the second World Cup in Hungary at the end of May, before a new team will be named to tackle the world championships in Račice, Czech Republic, from August 23-27.