2011 – that was the year Lisa Carrington won her first ever K1 200 canoe sprint world championship title, so beginning an incredible run that has not seen her beaten since at either a world championship or Olympic level.

In a country obsessed with their All Blacks New Zealand rugby team, Carrington is a household name, already an Olympic great with much more to come. But she’s not satisfied.

When Carrington won her first ever Olympic gold medal, in the K1 200 at London in 2012, the easy option would have been to return to New Zealand and start planning the defence of her title in Rio in 2016.

But Carrington doesn’t take easy options. She decided that in Rio, she would not only try and defend her 200 crown, but she’d also take a crack at the K1 500.

In 2016 she successfully kept the 200 crown, but had to settle for bronze in the 500. The easy option would be to return to New Zealand, and start planning how to win both gold medals in Tokyo in 2020.

Except we already know Carrington doesn’t do easy. So she decided that for Tokyo, she would try and go where no Olympic paddler has been before – four events, four medals – hopefully all gold. The K1 200 and 500, the K2 500, and the K4 500.

Could it be done? She did all four events at the 2017 world championships, and then again last year in Montemor, but how to measure if it was a success? To even contemplate allowing Carrington to contest all four races in Tokyo, at a bare minimum she would need to retain her 200 crown.

Which she did in both Racice and Montemor. She won the K2 500 with Caitlin Ryan in Racice, but had to settle for silver in the 500, and the K4 finished third.

Last year she once again finished second in the 500, second with Ryan in the K2, and second in the K4. Is the dream of four events over? Nobody, maybe not even Carrington, knows.

Next week in Szeged Carrington has shed the K2 500. She’ll do the 500, and team up with Kayla Imrie, Ryan and Aimee Fisher for the K4.

But her number one priority will be adding to her incredible K1 200 record. It’s hard to see how she can be beaten, but there’s a solid list of opponents ready to pounce if the 30-year-old New Zealander is having an off day.

Poland’s Marta Walczykiewicz and Denmark’s Emma Jorgensen are the two most likely. Walczykiewicz took Olympic silver in the 200 in Rio, and also finished runner-up behind Carrington in 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015. She was also European champion in 2018.

But Walczykiewicz has also been battling a troublesome shoulder injury, and will need to be at 100 per cent to challenge for a medal next week.

Jorgensen won world championship silver behind Carrington in 2017 and 2018, and importantly won gold in the European Games in Minsk this year. Finishing second in that event was Hungarian legend Danuta Kozak. Even though she is better known as a 500 metre paddler, any win over Kozak is a good win.

Jorgensen is still just 23, and alongside Sweden’s Linnea Stensils, a bronze medalist at last year’s world championships, represent the next generation of female canoe sprint paddlers who will be giving Carrington plenty to think about next week and in the years to come.


Gold: Lisa Carrington (NZL)

Silver: Marta Walczykiewicz (POL)

Bronze: Inna Osipenko-Rodomska (AZE)


Gold: Lisa Carrington (NZL)

Silver: Inna Osipenko-Rodomska (UKR)

Bronze: Natasa Douchev Janic (HUN)


Gold: Lisa Carrington (NZL)

Silver: Emma Jorgensen (DEN)

Bronze: Linnea Stensils (SWE)


Gold: Lisa Carrington (NZL)

Silver: Emma Jorgensen (DEN)

Bronze: Spela Ponomarenko Janic (SLO)


Gold: Emma Jorgensen (DEN)

Silver: Danuta Kozak (HUN)

Bronze: Marta Walczykiewicz (POL)


Emma Jorgensen (DEN)

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