It was “a long time coming” for Ashton Reiser at the Canoe Sprint Nationals & Oceania Championships at Karapiro over the weekend, winning the Men’s K1 200m final.
“It’s bloody awesome, I can’t believe it,” he said of winning his first K1 title.
It’s the first “decent go” the NZ men’s elite kayak squad has made at the nationals since moving their training base to Cambridge last year.
Fellow squad member Kurtis Imrie finished a fraction of a second behind Ashton in the final on Friday, but was still happy to make the podium. “I was hoping to get one position better but, Ashton did an awesome race,” he said. “It’s good competition, it’s a strong field.”
Canoe race legend Steven Ferguson finished just over a second behind them. “He was pretty good back in the day,” said Kurtis. “He’s come back and he’s showing us younger guys what’s up. It’s good to have him here challenging our squad and just making everyone race to the best of their ability.”
Kurtis went on to finish second in the men’s K1 1000m final on Saturday, his target event, less than two seconds behind Gisborne’s Quaid Thompson.
But he made up for it on Sunday in the MK1 500m, winning by 0.4 seconds over Thompson. Men’s elite squad members Max Brown and Ashton Reiser finished third and fourth respectively.
Kurtis also shared a boat with Max in the men’s K2 1000m final on Saturday, powering their way to first place in a stunning fashion over five seconds ahead of their nearest competitors.
“Nationals went well for us, the athletes made some good improvements from last year,” said NZ Men’s coach Fred Loyer. “We might have athletes selected for the World Cups and U23 World Champs.”
Paddlers who finished on the podium in the mens’ and women’s K 1 and 2 finals earned valuable points towards qualifying for the New Zealand World Cup and Worlds Champ team. They will go through to a trial event this weekend to secure more qualifying points, and then Canoe Racing New Zealand will announce a team in the next few months before the 2019 ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup kicks off in May.