A group photo of the Whanganui kayak team at Lake Karapiro. Photo / Supplied
Spearheaded by Tokyo Olympian Max Brown, the Whanganui kayak team has once again shown some of the bigger clubs in New Zealand that it isn’t just team spirit that is alive and well in the provinces.
Spread over three days of intense racing at the New Zealand Canoe Sprint Nationals at Lake Karapiro, the Whanganui crew returned home with a haul of 30 medals.
Among the slightly more relaxed rules and regulations under the orange Covid status, the team provided spectators and supporters with a multitude of closely contested races, many being decided by well under a second.
And none more so than 15-year-old Angus Sewell, who raced in both under-18 and under-16 men’s divisions.
After almost winning the U18 1000m in a thrilling come-from-behind finish to miss the title by less than a second (the first of many), Sewell went on to take golds in the U16 200, U16 MK2 200, and silvers in the U16 500, U16 K2 200, U16 K2 500, U16 K4 200, U16 K4 500, U16 MK4 200 and the U18 K2 200.
Aside from Sewell, the Whanganui club was well represented at U16 division across the male and female divisions. Brothers Jacob and Charlie Anderson both paddled well in the club team boats where they claimed well-earned silvers in the K4 200 and 500 events.
In the girl’s division, Greta Cox and Addison O’Leary showed their team boat skills as they teamed with U14 paddlers Hayley Stewart and Zoe Anderson to take a thrilling silver in the K4 500 against the favoured bigger clubs.
Further thrilling racing was had in the newly formed mixed team boat format where O’Leary and Sewell teamed to take gold over 200m and teamed with Jacob Anderson and Greta Cox to contest the mixed K4 200, where, after posting the fastest time from the heats, they paddled to silver in a thrilling race which again highlighted how close, and how much depth, had developed in the U16 division.
In the U14 division Hayley Stewart showed how much a winter of training had improved her position among her peers as she raced in her second year of that division. In her favoured 500m race she took a bronze then teamed with clubmate Zoe Anderson to show their team boat skills weren’t just limited to racing up an age group with their older club mates, as they won gold in the U14 K2 500 event.
First-year U14 paddlers Alexis Toy and Ryder Zimmerman both raced well and will benefit from seeing how their clubmates’ improvements in a second season highlighted the obvious pathway for their own development.
The U14 men’s division provided the surprise of the nationals when beginner paddlers Ben Tulloch and Hugo Cox showed competitive spirit and plenty of effort to find their …….