Mana paddler grabs four gold
Kurtis Imrie was just 1.37secs from creating history at the New Zealand canoe racing championships at Lake Karapiro, with only an Olympian stopping him recording a unique treble.
The 21-year-old paddler from Porirua’s Mana Kayak Racing Club took home four gold medals at the meet, including rare wins in the K1 200m and 500m finals.
The K1 1000m on February 19 was an intriguing showdown, with Imrie pushing Rio Olympian and Mana teammate Marty McDowell all the way.
‘‘I was over the moon,’’ Imrie said of his performance against McDowell.
‘‘I was hoping I could give him a bit of a push - he had too much class - but I was pretty stoked to be even that close to him, knowing that he went to the Olympics.
After a decent post-Olympic break, McDowell, from Titahi Bay, finished in 3:37.05, with Imrie clocking 3:38.42, well clear of Poverty Bay rival Quaid Thompson, who was third in 3:44.05.
Imrie, the younger brother of Olympic K4 paddler Kayla, had earlier beaten Bay of Plenty’s Taris Harker in the 200m sprint decider.
Two days later he added the K1 500m title with a commanding 2.75sec margin over Thompson, although Thompson had a measure of revenge at the end of a big weekend of racing, capturing the 5km crown with Imrie fourth.
It’s been a long fightback for Imrie, after contracting glandular fever two years ago, but things have improved markedly since joining the national men’s programme in Auckland in December under coach Fred Loyer.
‘‘The whole aspect of training has completely changed moving to Auckland, learning how to train properly with your heartrate in a certain zone and being able to maintain the hard stuff,’’ Imrie said.
‘‘My problem has always been I’d ‘fly and die’ so I’m just working on a race plan so that I’m evenly splitting through the race.’’
His other golds came in team boats, combining with McDowell to win the K2 1000m final, and with McDowell, Ethan Moore and Glen Muirhead in the K4 1000m.
Despite his sprinting success, the longer distances are where he sees his future success.
‘‘I’m definitely targeting the 1000m at the under-23 world championships this year and it’s a possibility to race the ICF World Cup series.’’
Kurtis Imrie on his way to victory in the men’s K1 200m final at Lake Karapiro.