NZ expected to dominate Va'a World Sprint Champs opening today

By Jessica Tyson

With the largest contingent of 586 competitors, New Zealand paddlers are expected to dominate at Va'a World Sprint Championships, which open this evening.

Over 11 days, 2,000 paddlers from 33 countries will battle it out on the water and Kiwi paddlers will be fighting to retain their titles from the 2016 event which saw them taking home over half of the gold medals on offer in the elite events.

The New Zealand team has a number of medal opportunities in the V1 events with top paddlers including sisters Akayshia Williams and Rangi-Riana Williams, Tupuria King, Tui McCaull, Grant Donaldson, Taane Heta and up-and-coming Junior 19 paddlers Inamaru Tere and Darius Apanui-Nepe.

Waka Ama New Zealand Chief Executive Lara Collins says, “The level of racing is like no other Va’a event in the world.  Not only are the best of the best from each county racing but the club event encompasses all age groups, which reflects the inclusive and whānau nature of our sport.

“All of the gruelling winter training will come to fruition in Tahiti and I am very excited to see all paddlers– club, elite and para– showcase why Aotearoa is a force to be reckoned with in the Va’a world.”

The event will formally open tonight in true Tahitian style; full of dance, music and a showcase of the beautiful island and her people. 

Te Kāea reporters Peata Melborne and Rahia Timutimu are covering the event and will go live on Te Kāea at the official opening tonight.

The Māori Television website will also livestream the event from Friday, July 20 to viewers in Aotearoa.