Tauranga paddler helps crew to final

Tauranga's Taris Harker has helped his New Zealand under-23 K4 crew into the A final of the world junior championships in Romania overnight. Photo: Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media.

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They’ve had a teasing glimpse of the next Olympics - now the New Zealand under-23 men’s K4 kayaking crew are determined to see the real deal in three years’ time.

Kurtis Imrie, Ben Duffy, Karl McMurtrie and Tauranga’s Taris Harker have made the ideal start to that goal too, storming into the K4 500m A final at the junior world championships in Romania.

The result comes just a fortnight after a training camp in Tokyo with the Japanese national team, which helped light a fire in their bellies.

“The Japan camp was an awesome experience, getting to train with another country and see how they work as a team, and working with lanes and start gates was a huge help to have before racing at worlds,” says Harker.

“We formed some good relationships with the Japanese so that we can keep coming back up until the Olympics and we also went to see the Olympic course currently being constructed, which was a huge motivation boost for all of us. It really helped solidify us as a great team.”

That showed on the Argeș River course in Pitești, when they clocked 1min 29.272secs in their heat to progress straight through to Sunday’s final, 0.224secs ahead of the Russian crew, and joining Spain and Hungary as the automatic qualifiers.

Amidst strong head winds, the rest of the New Zealand team also stepped up on the second day, led by Olympian Aimee Fisher.

As well as being second fastest in the K1 500m semifinals, Fisher was also fastest in the heats of the 200m, her time of 43.296 just ahead of Hungary’s Dora Lucz, who beat her in a recent World Cup final.

“It was a really strong headwind out there and it was quite tricky to stay up against the starting gate - which was probably why they called a false start,” says Fisher.

“I was pretty lucky with that because my first one was so bad! But I’m really happy with how it went today and it’s really exciting because there’s a lot of really cool young paddlers coming through at the moment, so it’s pretty challenging.”

Ben McCallum made it through to the B final of the junior K1 500m, while Samalulu Clifton, Ethan Moore and Max Brown all joined Fisher in progressing to the semifinals of their K1 200m events.

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