Lisa Carrington: superstar canoeist turned lady


New Zealand’s most successful Olympian, nicknamed “Usain Bolt of the kayak”, has been named lady.

Lisa Carrington with her gold medal in the K1 200m won at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Photo: Photosport / Steve McArthur

Lisa Carrington has won six Olympic medals, five gold and one bronze, out of a total of 23 medals during her canoe racing career.

She became New Zealand’s first triple gold medalist at this year’s Olympics.

She said the first step to success is just to appear.

“Especially as an athlete – you are tired, you are hungry, you are cranky, life gets a little tough, so I think when I’m in those times it’s okay, let’s not feel sorry for myself- even, I just have to arrive because every time I show up means I’m a little better. “

Dame Lisa said 2022 will have the same in store for her as she continues to be a better kayaker while having fun.

Sports and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson has said Carrington is a remarkable athlete.

He described her as tough, determined and consistent, but apart from the water she was also a well-rounded, humble and kind person.

“This honor is a recognition of all of her attributes and qualities. She is truly one of our greatest sportswomen of all time.”

Carrington embarked on an unprecedented challenge in Tokyo, competing in four different kayaking events at one Olympic Games.

Previously, she had told RNZ that ultimately her willingness to really test the breadth of her abilities was the deciding factor.

“I guess I kind of thought, if I can do it, why not give it a try. Nobody has done it and it’s a big request, but why not take this opportunity and play it too. cautiously.

“That’s what’s exciting. It’s about showing myself and doing my best.”

In the end, she won three gold medals in the K1 200m, K1 500m and K2 500m (with Caitlin Regal) and narrowly came in for a fourth medal in the K4 event, with the crew finishing fourth in the final.

Lisa Carrington wins the K1 200 at Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo in August.
Photo: © Steve McArthur /

Describing the event as “a pretty special Olympics,” Dame Lisa said shortly after that she was still figuring it out as her years of hard work paid off.

“I know what I put on and it’s been a lot of hard work, but it’s something that I wanted to do and constantly improve myself.”

At the time, family friend Tony Lovett, who co-founded the Eastern Bay Canoe Racing Club with Carrington’s dad, said Morning report that he considered Dame Lisa to be “the Usain Bolt of the kayak”.

“With Lisa she went to London and to everyone’s surprise won the 200. I think Gordy [Walker] was surprised, her trainer was surprised that she won that 200. And after winning that gold in London in the 200, everyone was like, “What the fuck she just did? “

“Then they realized what this girl was capable of and it took two more Olympics for this young lady to become a New Zealand sports star to a world superstar. And I think she deserves this coat, she is. up there with Usain Bolt, she’s up there with the Michael Phelps, she deserves that status. “

Dame Lisa hopes her successes can inspire other Kiwis to “believe and do things they never thought they could do.”

Her goal has always been simply to master her own talent and improve with each performance.

“For me to be able to reach such a high level, I guess it’s not to achieve results, but for me to be able to do it, to go further within myself to have achieved that potential. It’s just trying to be better than I was the day before. “

Entering such intense competition on the world stage, Carrington said she still struggles with nerves and fears – but has found ways to deal with them. Before a race, she confronts fear by looking down the lane in the water and feeling grateful for the opportunity to compete.

However, the chance to compete in the Olympics is the ultimate privilege, she said.

“Growing up to be an Olympian was the epitome of who you wanted to be. They represented so many good values ​​and so I think for myself something that I thought I would never be able to do.

“It’s amazing. I guess I’m just proud of where I’m from.”

Lisa Carrington trains at Lake Pupuke on the North Auckland Coast.

Lisa Carrington trains at Pupuke Lake on Auckland’s North Coast.
Photo: Jock

Following her success in Tokyo, the question was whether the 32-year-old would continue.

Everything suggests that she will be back after posting on social networks in October “the next adventure awaits … Paris 2024”.

Based in Auckland, Dame Lisa never forgets where it all began – her hometown of Ōhope on the Bay of Plenty. After the Olympics, she couldn’t wait to go back to celebrate with her fiance, Michael Buck, family, friends and most importantly, her dog, Colin, a cavoodle puppy, who came into her life in the first year. of Covid-19.

She supports and coaches young paddlers at her home club in Ōhope, and works with Canoe Racing New Zealand to help the sport develop.

She has won 10 gold medals at the world championships, including seven back-to-back K1 200-meter titles and has won the Halberg Awards Sportswoman of the Year four times, including in 2016 when she also won the supreme price.

She also beat shot putter Dame Valerie Adams and golfer Lydia Ko to be named Sportswoman of the Decade in the 2021 revamped Halberg Awards.

Also this year, Dame Lisa was named the most influential Maori sports personality of the past 30 years on the “Maori Sports Awards 30 in 30” program.

She was once again nominated for Sportswoman of the Year at the Halberg Awards, which spanned the last two years of achievement following the postponement of last year’s event.


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