Porirua paddler heading to Rio
Marty McDowell has weathered ups and downs during his kayaking career, but as the confetti rained down last week he allowed himself a smile.
The 29-year-old Mana Kayak Racing Club K1 1000m paddler did enough at the recent Oceania canoe sprint championships in Adelaide to secure his place in the six-strong New Zealand lineup that will travel to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The team, announced in Auckland last Thursday, will be spearheaded by Olympic champion Lisa Carrington. The Mana club will be well-represented in Rio, with Kayla Imrie a member of the K4 500m crew.
McDowell said there was more relief than joy when he found out two weeks ago he’d made it.
‘‘I had to keep it under wraps, apart from telling Mum and Dad,’’ he said. ‘‘I was never 100 per cent sure I was there [in the team] even though my results have been good in the last year.
‘‘I’ve had ups and downs in my career, but I got back on track again about four years ago, so to get to this point is pretty exciting.’’
At the Olympics, McDowell said his first goal would be making the final. If he did that, anything could happen.
‘‘It will be tough – this is the competition that everyone wants to win, far more than any world cup event.’’
He said he had heard conditions in Rio could suit the New Zealand paddlers, because it was coastal and windy.
‘‘It might be good for us because on Porirua Harbour, and in Auckland, you get a lot of side wind.’’
Rio is the culmination of hard work since McDowell seriously started flat water racing at the end of his college days.
The support from family and people in Porirua made the announcement last week extra special, he said.
McDowell and Carrington share the same coach, Gordon Walker, and McDowell said he drew inspiration from Carrington’s success and class.
Before the Olympics in early August, McDowell will attend regattas in Europe to help prepare for the biggest races of his life.
Marty McDowell at the announcement of the New Zealand Olympic canoe sprint team in Auckland last week.