Carrington says record haul 'scary, hurts a lot'

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 5 Aug 2021, 4:42PM

Carrington says record haul 'scary, hurts a lot'

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 5 Aug 2021, 4:42PM

Lisa Carrington now stands alone.

New Zealand's superstar of the Tokyo Games might have already exhausted all the superlatives, but her appetite for winning has not been sated.

"It's amazing. You set out for such a big task this week and to be able to do it is just another thing. I'm just so proud and just so amazed at what has happened this week so far," Carrington said in the immediate aftermath, sucking deep between sentences to aid her oxygen-depleted lungs.

In winning the K1 500m final today in typically startling style, Carrington has rewritten the record books.

The race got off to a non-start, with the gates not opening at the first time of asking due to a false start by one of the two Hungarian paddlers, but when it did Carrington quickly established herself as the frontrunner and despite tiring near the end, was never in real danger of being caught.

Carrington won in 1m 51.216s. Tamara Csipes (Hungary) took silver in 1m 51.855s and Denmark's Emma Jorgensen third in 1m 52.773.

There was little outward display of emotion other than a raised finger waggle as, for the first time at Sea Forest waterway, she looked truly spent. Fair enough, too, after finishing third in the discipline at Rio five years ago, Carrington set her sights on the dais' higher steps.

"Learning from Rio, you might have the capability to have great races but to actually execute it and do it is another thing," she told Sky. "It's taken me five years to have that courage to get back out there and do something that is really scary and hurts a lot.

"I hate it, but I love it.

"The way I approach the 500 is just about emptying the tank completely. It's just a completely different race and into the head wind it's just a bit longer but the strategy has to stay the same for me. It hurt a lot, but that just means I gave everything, so I'm really happy."

Lisa Carrington after winning her third gold. (Photo / Getty)

You could spend hours debating yourself around in circles over who is New Zealand's greatest Olympian. In the end the answer will always come down to personal biases but this much is true: Carrington cannot be left out of the conversation.

Two days after equalling the New Zealand record for most golds and most medals when winning the K2 500m with Caitlin Regal, Carrington guaranteed her spot at the top of Google searches for "most successful NZ Olympians".

By winning her third gold of these Games, Ohope's finest took her Olympic medal haul to six, one more than fellow kayakers Ian Ferguson and Paul MacDonald, and equestrian Mark Todd. Her five gold medals also pushes her ahead of Ferguson.

"Crazy. There's a lot of talk, people saying, 'You could do this, you could do that,' but for me, it was just making sure I just did what I could do, not focusing too much on the what ifs," she said.

With Carrington set to take her place in the K4 tomorrow alongside Regal, Alicia Hoskin and Teneale Hatton, there is a chance she could add to her tally before boarding a flight back to New Zealand.

The numbers are fascinating but tell only a fraction of the story. The numbers don't tell of the vice-like grip she appears to have over the field; control gained through an astonishing ability to hit top speed so much faster than her rivals.

Lisa Carrington in action. (Photo / Getty)

The propulsive forces she generates in her first 10 strokes are so superior to others they are forced into a constant catch-up battle. Kayaking well is a simple enough premise – maximum propulsive force and minimum drag being the keys – but Carrington has turned it into an art form from the moment she gets to the start line.

Focused, yet seemingly serene, her progress up the course is the embodiment of the quote credited to actor Michael Caine: "Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath."

The 32 year old took her place in the final courtesy of a dominating performance in her semifinal a couple of hours earlier.

Carrington posted the fastest time of the four races, a 1m 51.680s effort that saw her take an early lead that was never threatened by Australia's Alyce Wood, who also qualified for the final.

Regal was not so fortunate, leaving everything on the course before tying up in the final 100m, finishing third behind Csipes and Belgium's Hermian Peters.

She put aside that disappointment to win the B final in 1m 53.681s, a fraction ahead of Germany's Sabrina Hering-Pradler.

With a gold medal in her locker in the K2 500m and the K4 to come, it has been an outstanding regatta for the 29-year-old Aucklander but with 250m to go in her semifinal it looked like it was going to be even better.