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Aimee Fisher was a wide-eyed 18-year- old last time she competed at the world age group canoe sprint championships.


She won New Zealand's first junior worlds medal, with bronze in the K2 500m with Kim Thompson.

Now Fisher will line up in Pitesti, Romania from Thursday night a World Cup winner, and a Rio Olympic representative, having been part of a New Zealand women's squad who picked up a cluster of medals at cup regattas in Europe this year.

"It's great coming back to the junior worlds and being the old hand in the Kiwi team," Fisher said.

"I'm probably more nervous than anyone but I am getting much better at finding my answers under pressure and hopefully I can share some of the coping skills I've learnt with the younger athletes."

New Zealand have a squad of 23 athletes at the worlds for junior and under 23 ranks, including Thompson, Britney Ford and Rebecca Cole, who were all in the New Zealand squad at the World Cups this year where they gained valuable experience with an eye on the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

Fisher is off to the senior worlds in Racice, Czech Republic next month, where the K4 of Lisa Carrington, Kayla Imrie and Caitlin Ryan will have a strong chance of at least medalling, if not winning gold.

Fisher won the K1 200m and 500m double at this year's nationals in February, then finished second in the K1 200m at the second World Cup in May.

The gold medallist that day, Hungary's Dora Lucz, looms as a key rival for the Hawkes Bay paddler at the juniors as will Dane Emma Jorgensen, who won silver at the Rio Games in the K1 500.

Jørgensen won gold four years ago in Canada when Fisher was fifth, with just 1.478s separating the top five. It was that race that has been the key to Fisher's subsequent success.

"Missing that medal felt like the end of the world but it was just the beginning," Fisher said.

"That's when I started training properly and that's the thing I would want to share with my teammates this week.

''What happens at this competition won't define them - no matter how overwhelmingly important this weekend feels, it's just another step on their journey."

This will be the last year she qualifies for the age group championships, with added motivation to farewell departing national women's coach Rene Olsen in style.

Her female under-23 teammates this week are all members of the New Zealand high performance squad, with Thompson (Poverty Bay), Rebecca Cole (North Shore), Elise Legarth (Hawke's Bay) and Britney Ford (Poverty Bay) joining forces in the K4 500m.

A K4 combination also headlines the men's ranks, with Taris Harker (Bay of Plenty), Ben Duffy (Arawa), Kurtis Imrie (Mana) and Karl McMurtrie (North Shore) set to pair up in the team boat and Quaid Thompson (Poverty Bay) and Max Brown (Whanganui) tackling the K1 distances.

New Zealand team:


Women: Samalulu Clifton (North Shore), Olivia Brett (Arawa), Danielle Watson (Mana), Alex Bermingham (Poverty Bay), Hannah Baker (Waitara), Danielle Watson (Mana), Brooklyn Saunders (Mana).

Men: Ben McCallum (Waitara), Hamish Legarth (Hawke's Bay), Dylan Neal-Hill (Arawa), Ethan Moore (Mana), Jake Koekemoer (Arawa)


Women: Kim Thompson (Poverty Bay), Rebecca Cole (North Shore), Elise Legarth (Hawke's Bay), Britney Ford (Poverty Bay), Aimee Fisher (Hawke's Bay).

Men: Quaid Thompson (Poverty Bay), Taris Harker (Bay of Plenty), Max Brown (Whanganui), Ben Duffy (Arawa), Kurtis Imrie (Mana), Karl McMurtrie (North Shore).

Source: Nzherald.


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