Hei Matau Waka Ama club has their eyes set on a place at the World Championships in Tahiti this year. The club is currently in preparations for the National Sprint championships which gets underway on January 15th.
More than 50 clubs are what stands in the way of a trip to Tahiti for these young paddlers.
Club head coach Ray Timihou says, “We would like to finish on the podium get the medals and bring them home.”
“Even though it is top 6 that can go to Worlds, ideally we want to finish maybe (on the) podium,” says J16 crew member Taihakoa Teepa (Ngāi Tūhoe, Te Arawa).
The team has been training twice a day over the holiday period, which has them well poised to win a medal at Karāpiro.
Says Timihou, “Oh we’re looking pretty sharp at the moment especially our two a teams that are going to worlds.”
“I think we’re just feeling mixed emotions at the moment we are anxious to see what the competition is waiting for us,” says Taihakoa.
There are two weeks to go before the Waka Ama National Sprint Championships gets underway at Lake Karāpiro. It is only right that this team keeps working.
J16 Women's crew member Maringi James (Ngāti Tunohopu, Te Arawa) says, “We need to work on power, because most of our girls, we got no power or muscle.”
“If we wanna go all the way then we’re going to need to pick up our strength, pick up our fitness, and pick up everything,” says Taihakoa.
While it’s been weeks of training and hard work, Hei Matau realises that it could all end in a matter of seconds.
Says Maringi, “If we don’t make top three, then I don’t think we would have a real reason for going to Worlds if we’re just going to participate.”
“It’s pretty important for our club being a small club but serious when it comes to racing and that’s what I instill on the kids,” says Timihou.
Competition is guaranteed to be fierce when the boys and girls take to the water on day one.