Club paddles to success
Three junior teams from Hawaikinui Tuarua waka ama club have come home with two gold and two silver medals from the sprint nationals on Lake Karapiro.
Coaches Dennis Ngatai, Mandy Hatton, George Fa’alogo and Grant Barriball – the latter a world champion himself – have been training the boys since October, three times a week.
Many of the paddlers competed at the Vaka Eiva paddling competition in Rarotonga in November, gaining excellent experience against quality opposition, Hatton said.
At Karapiro, from January 18 till 22, the teams, colourfully known as Don’t Touch My Food, took on the country’s best and came away with brilliant results.
The intermediate team (comprising paddlers aged 12) won gold in the W6 500m race and silver in the W6 1000m events.
The J16 ( aged 13 to15) Green crew took out silver in the W6 1000m, while the J16 Blue and Green teams combined to win gold in the W12 500m race.
The intermediate team was Jordon Birch, Manea Puati, Brayden Iose, Mufutaga Tau, Fa’aolataga Tau and Isaac Fa’alogo. They were national champs in 2010, winning gold in the 500m and 1000m races, but this year had four new members.
Hatton said the newcomers had never paddled before but were strong and competitive athletes.
The J16 Blue crew comprised Teina Puati, Oliver Smith, Lewis Ngatai, Tane Lambie, Jasaih Ione, Ihakara Masoe and Rino Hagai while the J16 Green team was made up of Greg Morgan, Ezra Fa’alogo, Darnell Tearikiaua, Anton Taylor, Keenan Rogers and Kemara Hauiti-Parapara.
Hatton says while rugby, basketball and swimming occupy a lot of these boys’ time, waka ama is important to them, too. They train hard, have fun, and are well-known for being a ‘‘rambunctious’’ bunch.
‘‘Most of these young men, from both teams, have been paddling for a number of years, which they enjoy in their off season from winter sports,’’ Hatton said.
‘‘ They are keen to stay together and build on their achievements, and are looking forward to the 2012 nationals and more international paddling events.’’
Hatton and her fellow coaches said sponsorship from Tim Morgan at Online Security Services was crucial to enable them to compete at Karapiro.
Round we go: The J16 (Green) team show the skills and strength needed to execute the tricky turn during the 1000m final on Lake Karapiro.