Golden start for Aotearoa at Waka Ama worlds

By James Perry

Aotearoa has finished the first of the World Waka Ama Sprints on a high, capturing four gold medals. 

The Elite J19 Men, Women and Elite Men and Women V6 teams all won their respective 500m sections on Dorney Lake in London overnight.

The absence of 2018 world champions Tahiti didn't faze the Elite Men, coached and led by Tupuria King, as they held off a spirited Brazil in their final to win by just over a second, with the team from Hawai'i finishing third. Aotearoa had earlier in the day beat the same two teams in the heat that advanced them to the final.

The win sees Aotearoa go one better than in Tahiti four years ago. 

In the women's section, Aotearoa defended their gold medal from four years ago, fending off Hawai'i by nearly five seconds. Canada finished a further four seconds back in third. Aotearoa, featuring once again the icon Kiwi Campbell, and Hawai'i had again been the standouts in the heats earlier in the day.

Clean sweep

The Juniors seemingly had no trouble dispatching their rivals in their respective finals. The reduced field in London meant only one race for both J19 sections was needed.

The men beat off Hawai'i by more than four seconds to become the world champions and emulate the senior men and go one better than the last time out. Chile claimed bronze, while Brazil finished fourth.

The women's team, in a field of just three, were far too strong for their rivals, finishing seven seconds ahead of Hawai'i and Chile to defend the title their predecessors captured in 2018.

Other races to get underway on day 1 at the home of prestigious Eton College Rowing, saw the Masters (60+ and 70+) age groups singles and the Elite men and women V6 1500m.

The action continues on the water overnight tonight, with the finals of the V6 1500m, the V12 500m, Junior V6 1000m, and the master's grades.