Teen turns heads at kayak champs

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By KARO­LINE TUCKEY

Rau­mati South kayaker Tess Allen scooped seven medals from an un­der­dog po­si­tion at the weekend’s New Zealand Ca­noe Sprint Cham­pi­onships.

The 15-year-old Kapiti Col­lege stu­dent won gold in the un­der-16 girls’ class in the cov­eted K1 200 and 500 me­tre events, as well as the 5km, at the cham­pi­onships on Ro­torua’s Blue Lakes.

In the team events Tess helped claim sil­vers in the K4 200, and 500, and K2 500, and a bronze in the K2 200. ‘‘I didn’t have that many ex­pec­ta­tions, no one was ex­pect­ing me to win gold, but I was re­ally fo­cused, and I felt re­ally strong,’’ she said.

‘‘ I’m re­ally stoked, and it’s re­ally put my name out there and people no­ticed.’’

Her train­ing on Pau­ata­hanui inlet with the Mana Kayak Rac­ing Club had been un­usu­ally fo­cused on tech­nique, and en­sur­ing the young kayak­ers were not over­loaded with long ar­du­ous train­ing ses­sions, she said.

‘‘I’ve been work­ing on reach­ing for­ward to pull fur­ther to pull more wa­ter; length­en­ing out my stroke.

‘‘That has re­ally paid off, I could feel I was re­ally strong and I could power past the other girls.’’

Her wins in the K1 200 and 5km were both tough fights.

‘‘The 200 is such a short race, it’s so in­tense and it’s over so quick. It was a photo fin­ish with [ North- Shore- based favourite] Rochelle Austin, we didn’t re­ally know who won.’’

The 5km event was last in the weekend, and Tess said she stuck with Rochelle right to the end, but had to draw deep for the fi­nal sprint.

‘‘At about the last 200m mark I was able to pull past.’’

Mix­ing with Aus­tralian com­peti­tors, and be­ing on the wa­ter with na­tional kayak star Lisa Car­ring­ton was a thrill, she said. ‘‘You see her pad­dling next to you, and you think ‘it would be nice to be like that one day’.’’

Tess said she is work­ing to­wards a goal of rep­re­sent­ing New Zealand in kayak­ing in the un­der-18 Youth Olympics in the next three years, or qual­i­fy­ing for the worlds. She is also train­ing to com­pete for the Paekakariki Surf Life­sav­ing Club at the na­tion­als from March 6 to 9.

Fel­low Kapiti Col­lege stu­dent Sarah War­ren also picked up three medals at the kayak na­tion­als, com­pet­ing in un­der-14 girls.

Sarah placed in sil­ver po­si­tion in the K4 200 and K4 500, and bronze in the K1 5km race. Paekakariki Surf Life­sav­ing Club mem­ber Kayla Im­rie, 22, com­bined with Olympic cham­pion Lisa Car­ring­ton to win the K2 500m crown, head­ing off Te­neale Hat­ton and Caitlin Ryan by 2.43secs.

The pair also won the K2 200, and Kayla was part of a team to win in the K4 500m.

Fast: Tess Allen in ac­tion at the New Zealand Ca­noe Sprint Cham­pi­onships.

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