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Carrington leads NZ canoe medal hopes

Published: 2:51PM Thursday May 03, 2012 Source: ONE Sport

A change to the Olympic programme is giving New Zealand an additional medal shot at London 2012.

Reigning World Champion Lisa Carrington will race the K1 200 which will appear on the Olympic programme for the first time at the London 2012.

The team of five also includes Olympic silver medallist Ben Fouhy in the K1 1000, Steven Ferguson and Darryl Fitzgerald in the Men's K2 1000m and Erin Taylor who will team up with Carrington in the women's K2 500.

The announcement was made today by the New Zealand Olympic Committee and Secretary General and selector Kereyn Smith who says the athletes named today are an exciting mix of young talent and experience.

"Our hopes are certainly high for Lisa," she said. "While London will be her first Olympic Games she's going in ranked number one in the world. The rest of the team are all sitting in the world's top ten and, in the case of Taylor, Ferguson and Fouhy, have Olympic experience already behind them. They're a group of athletes that have what it takes to make New Zealand proud."

Ferguson is heading for his fourth Olympic Games after first representing New Zealand in swimming in 2000. He went on take up canoe sprint and team up with Fouhy at Athens 2004 and competed again at Beijing 2008. Fouhy is heading for his third Olympic Games (Athens 2004, silver and Beijing 2008). Taylor also made an appearance at the Beijing in 2008.

Canoe Racing NZ's Chief Executive, Paula Kearns said, "We are delighted to be sending this exciting team to the Olympic Games.

"We have worked hard to create a world-class high performance programme to enable our athletes to hit the start line in the best possible shape. Our aim has been to develop a programme which is athlete-focussed and coach-led and includes integrated support services. We are confident this approach is paying off."

The team leaves next Tuesday to compete at in two World Cup events in Poznan, Poland and Duisberg, Germany. The team will remain in Europe to train through to the Olympic Games.

Kearns said the team's decision to continue training in Europe provides the athletes with an additional 26 training days which is significant in the crucial pre-Olympic period.

"This is the first time we have taken this approach and we believe it will provide significant benefits to our athletes."

Promising paddler Teneale Hatton also travels to the World Cups to compete in the Women's K1 500m. Hatton is yet to meet New Zealand Olympic Committee selection criteria but the two world cups provide her with a final opportunity to do so.

Ian Ferguson (Men's K2) and Gordon Walker (Open) were also named as the Olympic team coaches.

New Zealand has a proud history in Olympic canoe racing, taking the world by storm in 1984 with four gold medals and again in 1988 where New Zealand took home one gold, one silver and one bronze.

New Zealand was once again on the podium in the sport in 2004 with Ben Fouhy winning silver. (eds. Total eight medals, five gold, two silver, one bronze)

The success of canoe sprint has also played an important role in New Zealand Olympic history. Canoe sprint delivered New Zealand's first triple and triple gold medallist at a single Olympic Games (Ian Ferguson, 1984), our first quadruple Olympic medallists (Ferguson and Paul MacDonald (1984 and 1988), our first quadruple gold medallist (Ferguson, 1984 and 1988) and finally our first quintuple medallists (Ferguson, MacDonald 1984 and 1988)

Today's selection announcement brings the New Zealand Olympic team to 85 with a further 100 athletes expected to be named over the coming three months. The Olympic Games kick off on July 27 2012.

New Zealand Canoe Team

Lisa Carrington - Women's K1 200m/K2 500m
Erin Taylor - Women's K2 500m
Steven Ferguson - Men's K2 1000m
Darryl Fitzgerald - Men's K2 1000m
Ben Fouhy - Men's K1 1000m