Hawke’s Bay sprint kayaker Aimee Fisher is power paddling into another challenging year as she works towards her dream of competing in the 2016 Olympics and continues degree studies at EIT.
Aimee is about to launch into the second year of her Bachelor of Business Studies programme while also managing her many sporting commitments. Last year, studying part-time, she scored all As and A+s for her four courses.
The near 19-year-old (her birthday is on 24 January), an ex-Karamu High School student, was the standout performer in the recent Blue Lake 2 regatta, one in a series of events at which athletes seek selection for teams that will race this year in Australia and in the Junior and Open World Championships.
Aimee’s wins were in the Under 23 K1 200m, the Open Women K1 200 and the Open Women K1 500, a race she rates as the most important in her eight-year kayaking career.
“I think everyone was a bit shocked,” she says of beating Caitlyn Ryan, the race favourite who, like most of the other finalists, had bettered her last year. However, Aimee says she was well prepared and felt she had nothing to lose.
“I just wanted to compare myself with the best Open Women paddlers and start pushing my claim for a place at the Rio Olympics. I ignored my Under 23 age group (except in the K1 200m) and focused on Open Women.”
Even her coach felt she was setting her goals too high and she admits she struggled to recover in the hour between heats and the final.
“I was pretty flat on the line but then I got lucky. My start was a mess but we got called back because the whole field had gone before the gun. Now I was pumping, and my next start was good. I was thrilled to match the quickest girls off the line and then I took it out as hard as I could – trying to “break some hearts”.
“With 50 metres to go my world was starting to go pretty dark and I was locking up a bit. I began visualising one of my gym routines, smashing every stroke just as hard as I could. I managed to go past Caitlyn and win by half a boat.”
Aimee is now ranked New Zealand’s number two for the 200m event, behind Olympic gold medallist Lisa Carrington who, because of injury, was scratched from the Rotorua regatta. However, she adds, that rating isn’t very important just now because her path to Rio de Janeiro is in a team boat over 500 metres.
Returning home to Hastings, she had “the best experience” of her career to date speaking to 10-year-olds from Haumoana School.
“We watched a video of me paddling and I talked for a while, mostly about my heartbreak at missing a medal at Junior World’s and how good disappointment had been for me. My message was set your goals high and that it’s okay to fall short.”
Aimee is off to another good start with the award of a further Sport Hawke’s Bay and EIT Sports Scholarship. For the second successive year she will receive $2000 which she can use to assist with sports performance or study.