Waka ama rivals won’t give an inch
The Turi Hodges-Grant Barriball rivalry will resume at the waka ama sprint nationals this week.
The two Porirua Canoe Kayak Club paddlers finished a close first and second in the masters men’s 500- metre race at Lake Karapiro last year. Barriball is keen to avenge the loss this time around.
‘‘ I’m confident, but Turi has been going really well this year, so I know his preparation has been good,’’ Barriball said. ‘‘It should be a good race and you can bet there’ll be no inch given.’’
Barriball said former national and world champion Richard Pehi would be hard to beat, too.
More than 3000 paddlers in 10 age divisions from 61 clubs will descend on Karapiro near Cambridge for the event, which runs until Saturday.
Porirua will have four clubs attending – Hawaiki Nui Tuarua Waka Ama, Mana Pasifika Outrigger Canoe Club, Porirua Canoe Kayak Club and Toa Waka Ama Club.
Barriball said the facilities and atmosphere were incredible and the more than 100 paddlers and supporters from his club looked forward to sprint nationals because of it.
This year they have pitched in for a chef to prepare food for them so parents can cheer on the paddlers.
‘‘It’s a sport that can involve the whole family and there’s a lot of commitment from parents, coaches and managers. For me, it’s about catching up with mates and when I’m not competing I try to relax a bit.’’
Barriball coaches his partner Selena’s crew in the masters women’s section. They were surprise winners of the 500m race last year, so would have targets on their backs this time, he said.
Barriball’s son, Cody, will compete in the open division.
The 50- year- old said he had been trying to pull back from competing in the sport he took up 12 years ago but being on the water and competing at a high level had a hold over him.
These days it was more about taking a smarter approach than spending hours in the waka or at the gym.
‘‘I read a book by [famous running coach] Arthur Lydiard and I’ve taken on a lot of his ideas. I’ve adapted his methods to my training and in my coaching and they seem to be working.
‘‘To do this sport at the level I wanted, I would have to quit work and Selena would be by herself, but that’s not going to happen.’’
Other big events on Barriball’s radar this year are the Takapuna Beach Cup in February and poss- ibly the long-distance nationals in Whangarei in April. He hopes to attend the world sprint champs in 2016.
At the nationals, the juniors and seniors will be racing today and tomorrow, with the adults taking to the water from Thursday until Saturday.
Results and photos at wakaama.co.nz.
Water-borne: Porirua waka ama paddler Grant Barriball will be among the ones to watch at this week’s sprint nationals.