Golden day for NZ at Tahiti Waka Ama Worlds

By Rahia Timutimu

It was a victorious day for New Zealand paddlers in Day 5 at the IVF Va’a World Sprint Championships in Tahiti today.

The first race of the day was the Masters 60 Women’s section.  Elizabeth Tane won NZ’s first medal which was a silver.

“The water was really good today after the other two days of competition,” says Tane, “I feel shattered and knew I should have kicked at the end and I did.  It’s always the best paddlers that win at the end of the day.  It was a good race.”

There was clean sweep In the Junior 16 Women’s section for NZ, winning gold, silver and bronze. 

Gabreill Wainohu from Horouta Waka Hoe won gold, Rangi-Riana Williams claimed silver and bronze went to Khobi Paretoa,

“I had Aunty Kiwi and CC warming me up and they just kept trying to remind me to stay focused on my job, so during that race I tried so hard to be focused on just myself, and it really must have worked for me- got the outcome I was looking for,” says Wainohu.

In the boys section of the same grade, Tane Heta came away with a silver medal, a shock to the Māori paddler.

“I wasn’t even looking at a podium finish this year,” admits Heta, “but hard work came through in the end.”

John Turi Hodges has featured at many world sprint championships in the last eight years and has placed in the top three places in the world.

Today he wasn’t disappointed, claiming bronze.

“I felt awesome because for the first time in my life I went into that with a plan, I stuck to the plan and the plan went good, and that makes a big difference because it frees up your mind to just focus on the race.  In the last 100 metres there I was just thinking about my family back home just to give it that extra burst,” says Hodges.

To the Junior 19 Women’s section, it was a clean sweep for NZ who took out all three placings. 

Ina Tere won gold, Makayla Timoti took silver and Koha-alofa Vitolio came away with bronze.

“Oh, it feels mean as winning gold,” says Tere as she wipes away her tears of joy, “Thinking about all the trainings I’ve been through and just being on the water with my teammates just makes it so much better.”

In one of the major finals, NZ's top women battled it out in the Open Women's final.

There were four paddlers from NZ in this race of eight paddlers from around the world, including 5-title winner and current champion Hinatea Bernadino, from Tahiti.

In the end, Marama Elkington finally got her revenge after losing to Bernadino in Australia in the final three metres two years ago.  Elkington pushed right through to the end and won the Open Women's title with a time of 2:24:01, Bernadino came in at second with her time of 2:24:81.

"I’ve put in so much hard work for this and to finish like that I started crying when I crossed the line because I was trying hard and I ended up winning.  It’s an amazing feeling to see all your hard work pay off like that,” says Elkington.

“This year I wasn’t ready for her,” says Tahitian Bernadino, “its ok.  I’ve got nothing to prove to anybody.  I’ve got five titles so I’m ok.”

The attention now is on the V6 teams as they race in the 1000m tomorrow.