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Rio Olympics 2016: Lisa Carrington powers to New Zealand’s third gold medal

Rio Olympics 2016: Lisa Carrington powers to New Zealand’s third gold medal

The golden glow is back on New Zealand’s Olympic campaign thanks to another fabulous canoe sprint triumph for Lisa Carrington on Tuesday (Wednesday NZ Time).

Smoke on the water and with a golden hue off it, Carrington is now a double Olympic champion in the fast and furious canoe sprint they call the K1 200m − and there was never really any doubt about it as she extended her unbeaten streak in the event at the global level to 13 regattas.

Carrington’s reputation as the Usain Bolt of her sport gained further credence as she backed up her London triumph in the mad dash with another fast-finishing masterpiece in Rio. It’s the first part of what the powerful Kiwi hopes will be an historic double gold medal effort at these Games, with the K1 500m to follow.

The New Zealander looked as though she was up against it as Poland’s Marta Walczykiewicz and Azerbaijan’s Inna Osypenko-Radomska, the two big threats, bolted through the first 100m right on the Kiwi’s pace on the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon.

It was game on at the halfway point, with conditions ideal for fast racing.

But then, as she does, Carrington stepped it up when it mattered. As those shoulders whirled in an explosion of transferred power, she was able to tap on her metaphorical accelerator over the second half to power clear to a decisive victory.

Carrington finished in 39.864 seconds, well clear of Walczykiewicz who took silver in 40.279 seconds and Osypenko-Radomska who claimed the bronze with 40.401 seconds. Victory was actually comfortable given the sport’s rapid-fire nature.

Carrington revealed she knew little about how the race unfolded, including where she was travelling or even if she’d won.

Fittingly, she received her gold medal from champion Kiwi boardsailer and current IOC athletes’ representative Barbara Kendall, who has a full set of Olympic medals won between 1992 and 2000.

The power-packed Carrington admitted she had been “pretty nervous” before the race as the enormity of it all had struck her.

She said she had exchanged some special words with runner-up Walczykiewicz on the pontoon afterwards.

“It’s so hard to see. I felt like I was in front when I crossed the line, but I had to wait,” she told NZ Newswire.

“It was very cool when my name came up.”

Carrington sensed the finish was tight. She switched on the peripheral vision momentarily with 50m to go and could tell boats in the three other centre lanes were hovering.

“I really just wanted to perform awesome today,” she told Sky Sport afterwards. “I really wanted it. But I’m just happy to have raced kind of a representation of the last four years, and longer than that. I’m just stoked.”

Carrington becomes the second woman to defend an Olympic title in a singles boat, matching the K1 500m deeds of Soviet paddler Lyudmila Pinayeva in 1968.

“We were just so happy for each other,” she told Sky Sport. “She’s so quick, she’s amazing. I’m happy for her. In London she didn’t medal but this time to see her on the podium is pretty special,” she added.

She also reflected on an ideal four years of preparation under the tutelage of master coach Gordon Walker.

“It was fairly tough. We are trying all the time to get better. It’s hard because we just keep pushing those boundaries to see how much more can I do, how much faster can I go, how much stronger can I get.

Story originally published by Stuff, NZN here