Two canoeists and a kayaker from the Bay of Plenty have been selected by the New Zealand Olympic Committee for the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games.
Tauranga Boys’ College student Finn Anderson, 15, will contest the men’s C1 events (one-person canoe). He’ll be joined by 14-year-old Kahlia Cullwick from Mount Maunganui College who’ll contest the women’s C1 events (one-person canoe).
The third paddler is Okere Falls kayaker George Snook, 14, who will contest the men’s K1 events (one-person kayak). George is a member of New Zealand’s under 18 canoe slalom team and is currently in Munich, where he’s training ahead of the ICF Junior World Championships in Italy in July.
The Canoe Slalom BOP paddlers secured their spots by competing at the Youth Olympic Games qualification event in Barcelona in April.
The athletes will race in both the slalom and sprint disciplines at the Youth Olympic Games.
All athletes have come through the Canoe Slalom NZ Development Squad and both George and Kahlia competed at the inaugural AIMS Games canoe slalom event in 2016, with George winning the Year 8 boys event.
Finn Anderson’s been a devoted paddler from a young age and is proud to be following in the footsteps of the Bay of Plenty’s Olympic slalom athletes Mike Dawson and Luuka Jones.
Tauranga Boys’ College student Finn Anderson. Photo: Supplied.
"It’s pretty good having a couple of awesome athletes like them to look up to. Luuka winning that silver medal at Rio was huge, it’s pretty cool to show we can do that as a southern hemisphere country."
Canoe Slalom Bay of Plenty coach Matt McKnight expects the New Zealanders to stack up well against the world’s best young paddlers.
"It’s pretty amazing for us to get three spots and these guys have a good chance over there. They work hard and train at least four hours a week for slalom then three hours for sprint and we’ll do another big training push ahead of Buenos Aires."
Oliver Puchner has been selected as the non-travelling reserve for Finn Anderson in the Men’s C1 events. Henry Hall has been selected as the non-travelling reserve for George Snook in the Men’s K1 events.
Rotorua Lakes High School student George Snook. Photo: Supplied.