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Hoskin and Thompson chase spots for the Tokyo Olympic Games

GISBORNE kayak paddlers Quaid Thompson and Alicia Hoskin are among a small group of New Zealand athletes in Australia chasing quota spots for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

They will be in Penrith, Sydney, competing at the Oceania Canoe Sprint Championships, which start tomorrow and end on Sunday.

Thompson, the 2019 national K1 1000-metre champion and world championship representative, will try to secure one of two Oceania Olympic quota places in his speciality event.

Fellow Poverty Bay Kayak Club product Hoskin, now based in Auckland for university studies, will pair with Danielle Watson in the K2 500m in pursuit of two extra places for New Zealand in the women's Olympic team.

New Zealand have already banked four Olympic spots in the K1 200m, K1 500m and K4 500m following the combined efforts of Lisa Carrington, Caitlin Ryan, Kayla Imrie and Aimee Fisher at the 2019 world championships.

Hoskin and Watson are hoping victory in Penrith will ensure up to six female paddlers can be selected for New Zealand for the Tokyo Olympics, although no specific athletes will be confirmed for the team until after final selection.

All continental Olympic quota races will take place during tomorrow's heats at the Oceania championships.

Also paddling at the champs will be Max Brown and Kurtis Imrie, who had a breakthrough year in 2019. They reached the A Final in the K2 1000m at the World Cup regatta in Poznan, Poland, and will be seeking an Olympic berth for New Zealand in that event.

Australia qualified a boat in this event through their performance at last year's world championships, so if Brown and Imrie beat the best of the rest in Oceania they will have secured an Olympic quota spot. Again, however, a decision on the make-up of the crew for the Olympics would be made following trials in the next few weeks.

The Olympic qualification system allows each nation to qualify only one men's boat at the Oceania qualifier. This means that if both the K2 1000 and K1 1000 secured places, Canoe Racing New Zealand would have to return one spot.

Canoe Racing NZ coach Tim Brabants, who will be at the Oceania champs, said he hoped the championships would provide additional Olympic qualification options which would enable the New Zealand team to be as big as possible in Tokyo.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand Canoe Sprint Championships will be held at Lake Karapiro from tomorrow to Sunday.

Poverty Bay Kayak Club member Zach Ferkins, now based at Karapiro as part of the New Zealand men's kayak squad, is one of the contenders in the K1 200m, 500m and 1000m.

He will be up against fellow squad members Ashton Reiser, Ben Duffy and Hamish Legarth.

In the K1 1000m, Arawa veteran Fred Teear — who finished fourth in a top-quality international field at Blue Lake 2 — and 2003 world champion and 2004 Olympic silver medallist Ben Fouhy, 40, could threaten to break into the top three.

Poverty Bay Kayak Club will have 22 paddlers at the championships, and Sam Ferkins will trial for the New Zealand under-23 squad.

The natonal sprint champs will also be the first competitive appearance this season of reigning double world champion Lisa Carrington.

Carrington (Eastern Bay of Plenty, with Gisborne family connections) will defend both her K1 200m and K1 500m national titles.

She is on the water tomorrow in the open women's K1 200m heats, with the final to follow that morning.

The three-day event will have races in novice, tyro, under-14, u16, u18, open and masters' divisions at distances of 200m, 500m, 1000m and five kilometres.

Alicia Hoskin
Quaid Thompson