Lisa Carrington has not been beaten in a 200 metre canoe sprint international since 2011, and on Monday the New Zealander gave every indication this week will not be the week when she relinquishes the crown, the final time the women’s K1 200 will be on the Olympic programme.

Except there is one different element in Tokyo which wasn’t there when she won gold in London in 2012, or when she successfully defended her title in Rio in 2016. This time the 32-year-old has set herself a target which has never been achieved by any canoe sprint athlete at any Olympics.

She hopes to win medals in four different events.

It’s a feat which will require superhero qualities, especially when you take into account the oppressive Tokyo heat, and that on Tuesday alone she will need to race four times – two quarter finals and two finals.

But anyone who has been watching Carrington for the past decade knows what she is capable of. And speaking after easily winning her K1 200 heat on Tuesday, and then teaming up with Caitlin Regal to win their K2 500 heat, she is not sounding at all daunted by the task confronting her.

“We have a bit of a plan, and it’s nice to have executed that today, and obviously we have to start again tomorrow so we have some more work to do,” Carrington said.

“I’m excited. Some people only get out on the water once, I’m going to go out there for four different events, so I see it as a great privilege to be able to get out there for four different events.

“I always had in the back of my mind that this was a possibility, and I guess as I’ve changed as an athlete, as my training range increased, the longer I did it, it became more realistic.”

Carrington will start the shortest of short-price favourites in the K1 200, an event which carries extra significance because it will not be on the Olympic programme in Paris in 2023.

It’s given Carrington extra incentive to finish the event she has dominated for a decade with one last gold medal.

“I’m really disappointed that it’s leaving, it’s given me so much and given so many of the other paddlers so much opportunity to be able to express their speed and power,” she said.

“I’m really gutted its leaving, but I know we are not the only sport to be losing events.”

Carrington posted the quickest qualifying time of the four women’s K1 200 heats, just ahead of Spain’s Teresa Portela.

Hungary’s Dora Lucz is also looming as a strong challenger after she won what appeared to be the most difficult of the heats.

“I feel good and happy because I could qualify myself directly for the semi-final, so I can spend the afternoon preparing for tomorrow’s race,” she said.

Denmark’s Emma Jorgensen, second behind Carrington at both the 2017 and 2018 world championships, also breezed through her heat.

“I was relaxed and I felt good for the first race of the Olympics,” she said.

“I think I feel more experienced and five years older. The training and the years up to these Olympics have been different because I haven’t been working, so I think maybe it’s a little more professional for me to be here right now.”

The women’s K1 200 and K2 500 gold medals will both be decided on Tuesday.

Pics by Bence Vekassy

Denmark Emma Jorgensen K1 200 Tokyo Olympics

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