Young paddlers make a splash in Belarus

Young paddlers make a splash in Belarus

Six young athletes from North Shore Canoe Club made a splash in Belarus when they were selected for the New Zealand Canoe Sprint Junior/Under 23 team to compete at the World Championships at the end of July.

The team members ranged in age from 17 to 20 and all were proud and excited to travel overseas and pursue their sporting ambitions. Eighteen-year-old Ashton Reiser has only been paddling a kayak for two years and, like teammate Karl McMurtrie, dreams of Olympic success in Tokyo. He raced in the K2 1000m junior men's event in Belarus with a paddler from Gisborne.

Ashton said, “I felt super stoked and really proud. It was a huge relief for me to be named in the team after a few sleepless nights waiting for the news and many years of grit, determination and hard work. We made it to the semi-finals to gain a top 24 ranking in the world. I was happy with the way we raced, in that we went faster than ever before and made no mistakes.”

Briar McLeely and Rebecca Cole reached the A final of the K2 500m event and came fifth, which was a fantastic result for the club and NZCT-funded coach Gavin Elmiger. Rebecca said, “I felt happy that all the work Gav had put into helping me was paying off. I want to continue to improve my technique and strength.”

The youngest team member at just 17, Samalulu Clifton said, “I was so happy and surprised about the selection into the team because I was aiming to go in 2017, but I ended up going this year. I had an awesome time racing the K1 200m, although only going to the semis. I gained so much knowledge and experience that I will put into practice.”

Like Samalulu, Rochelle Austin wants to keep developing her skills and said, “The World Championships were something that I had been working towards achieving. It is a really unique, special and exiting experience. I want to continue moving forward, make the U23 sprint kayak team and see what I have to offer the kayak world!”