Sport | Olympics

Young blood to join Dame Lisa Carrington for Paris Olympics

Aotearoa’s most successful Olympian, Dame Lisa Carrington (Ngāti Porou, Te Aitanga a Māhaki), is to lead New Zealand’s largest women’s canoe sprint team to the Paris Olympics later this year. Part of her squad is debutante Lucy Matehaere (Ngāti Raukawa, Te Apunga Paparamu).

This will be Matehaere’s first Olympic Games. She will be doing the K2 500, sharing a boat with Rio 2016 Olympian Aimee Fisher.

Matehaere has been on trial to make the team for months but has been dreaming about this moment for years.

“It’s pretty surreal, like when I first got told it was quite difficult to fathom, because I’ve been dreaming about this for nine years. But you don’t quite let yourself dream about all the parts of it until you actually finally make it.”

Her whānau were unable to join the selection announcement but she told Te Ao Māori News her parents were happy when they found out the news.

“My dad just went like ‘woo-hoo!’ and like screamed in the car, and then mum just cried.

“A lot of people just cried. I think for them it’s such a relief, they’ve been hanging on like really hoping I make it as well. So there’s a lot of emotions wrapped up in it.

“It’s been just amazing having everyone on this journey to bring my whole whānau along. My two younger sisters as well are both doing sport to a high level, so they inspire me.”

She and Carrington make up the Māori representation of the New Zealand women’s canoe sprint team.

Matehaere said “Aunty Lisa” had been an “amazing role model” for her.

“She is the one who will really enjoy the training as well, like in the gym. It’ll have a fun time, as well as being really focused.

“Someone to also lean on for support when you need it.”

Carrington told Te Ao Māori News her advice for the new girl was to “be confident and represent everyone from home.

“Lucy is such an incredible person and, so for her, I think it’s such an exciting thing to be a part of. She’s worked incredibly hard.”

The six-time Olympic medalist will take part in all three disciplines K1, K2 and K4. This will be her fourth time competing in the Olympics.

Carrington said she felt “privileged to be a part of this team”.

“I just haven’t been able to stop learning, so that’s what’s been kind of really helping me stay in this sport.

“I still really enjoy it. I still love paddling, still love getting out there and challenging myself.”

It‘s Aotearoa’s first time qualifying and naming six female canoe sprint athletes for an Olympic Games.

The canoe sprint events will start on August 6 and end on August 10.