World champ status for Caitlin Ryan
‘‘...only in our wildest dreams did we expect this kind of result so soon.’’ Mark Weatherall
Red Beach surf lifeguard Caitlin Ryan elevated herself to the ranks of world champion with gold medal success in the Czech Republic last weekend.
She was among Kiwi paddlers who have produced New Zealand’s greatest medal haul from a canoe sprint world championship.
Competing at the Kayak World Championships, she paired with fellow Olympian Lisa Carrington to take out the K2 500m event, with their comfortable win testifying to the paddling power of this dynamite duo.
Ryan and Carrington also collected bronze medals on the last day of the championships when they teamed up with Kayla Imrie and Aimee Fisher for a very tight third placing in the final of the K4 500m event.
Just 12 months ago, Ryan became Red Beach Surf Club’s tenth Olympian when she competed in the K4 event in Rio de Janeiro.
She became just the second female from the club to compete at the Games. Erin Taylor competed at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and at the London Olympics in 2012.
Carrington took the biggest haul with another win in the K1 200 and silver in the K1 500.
The victory in Racice was her fifth consecutive K1 200 world championship title, to go with two Olympic golds in the event. The K4 bronze was her 11th world champs medal in a stellar career, with seven gold, two silver and two bronze.
Canoe Racing NZ chief executive Mark Weatherall said Carrington’s 10-race effort over the championship would rank as one of New Zealand’s great sporting achievements. He also paid tribute to retired K4 stalwart Jaimee Lovett, former national women’s coach Rene Olsen and current coach Gordon Walker for their efforts in helping launch a culture of excellence in the team boat ranks.
‘‘There have definitely been some hurdles along the way and but to see those four black-clad paddlers on the podium at a world championship is immensely satisfying and a very proud moment,’’ Weatherall said.
‘‘Three years ago, we set a plan in motion to build a team boat capable of performing on the world stage, which would in turn expand our stable of paddlers, but only in our wildest dreams did we expect this kind of result so soon.’’
Lisa Carrington, left, and Caitlin Ryan after winning the women’s K2 500m event at the canoe sprint world championships in Racice, Czech Republic.