New Zealand canoeist Lisa Carrington has carried her form from last year into 2020. And with just four months until Olympic Games, she's aiming to continue her domination of the sport.
"It's a little bit daunting considering that the Olympics feels so close since I've been working for quite a long time to get here but it's amazing," she told Tokyo 2020 in September last year.
The two-time Olympian has fond memories of competing at the Olympic Games.
At Rio 2016, she made history after becoming the first New Zealand women to win multiple medals at a Games with her gold and bronze contributing to her nation's 18 medals overall, which also saw Carrington named the flag bearer for the closing ceremony.
She finished on top of the podium at the 2019 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships for the seventh consecutive time in the women’s K1 200m before also picking up a gold in the K1 500m. This meant that the 30-year-old managed Olympic quota spots for New Zealand in both events.
It's all a waiting game for Carrington as the New Zealand Olympic Committee is still set to select who will represent the nation in canoe sprint at one of the biggest sporting events on the world.
But how does an athlete, who is looking towards her third Olympic Games appearance, continue to dominate in the canoe sprint world?
Well, Carrington puts it down to a few factors.
“I think it's kind of making sure you’re not getting too complacent,” she said.
“You're always looking for improvement, that the status quo isn't good enough and you’re always trying to find a place to grow and learn as well.”
While Carrington may be a veteran of canoe sprint, having made her international debut almost a decade ago, the Bay of Plenty native admitted that the nerves never go away before a race.
“The scariest thing is ensuring I can perform so it's easy to go ‘what if I'm not good enough?’, ‘what if I fall out?’, ‘what if I take a bad stroke?’ so I think it's kind of controlling those thoughts that come into my mind when I'm paddling,” she said.
And with a race taking as little as 37 seconds to finish and the Olympic Games only coming around every four years, there can be a lot of pressure to perform.
“We put so much effort and time into paddling and doing what we do that you can't help have high expectations and want it to do as well as possible considering you put so much effort in,” Carrington said.
With Carrington having almost certainly booked her ticket to Tokyo after titles in both the open women's K1 200m and K1 500m at the New Zealand Canoe Sprint Championships in February, she is hoping to keep doing what she’s been doing to represent New Zealand on the biggest stage once again.
“I think it can be tempting to try change things and try do something better but the work that I'm doing is feeling good,” she said.
“I'm still trying to progress but also maintain the most important things that helped me paddle well.”