Teen turns heads at kayak champs
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.