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(E) Kayaking championship in Croatia next year
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  11/11/2004 | Sports | Unrated
(E) Kayaking championship in Croatia next year


Kayaking championship in Croatia next year


Ferguson has one more golden era in his sights


Ian Ferguson and Paul MacDonald's last stand - at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics - spelt the end of the golden era for New Zealand canoeing and for the next decade flatwater kayaking was little more than a ripple on recreational lakes.

Ben Fouhy then paddled into view, quickly becoming world champion and then Olympic silver medallist. His switch from whitewater and multisport gave new hope.

Ferguson, now national coach, then had his passion for the sport rekindled. He and his small team went flat out but came up just short at the Athens Olympics leaving many wondering where to now.

Ferguson has no doubts.

"I'm determined not to let it go to sleep like it did after Paul and I quit," Ferguson said.

"There are a lot of paddlers out there who need help. Our sights now have to be set on [the 2008 Olympics] Beijing.

"I want to get more coaches involved. We are in the process of setting up an identification process.

"It is good to have a group of young guys coming through. They need all the help we can give them.

"We have a 17, 18 and 20-year-old out there. Anyone of them could be a world-beater. That excites me."

There will be changes.

Fouhy and Steven Ferguson of the old guard are certain to be at the forefront of the next Olympic campaign. Mike Walker and Peter Longdill are taking a break, but Ferguson expects they will continue, as will rising star Troy Burbridge. He says we have seen the last of Australian-based Dave Kennedy and Owen Hughes.

Ferguson is loathe to dwell on the Hughes outburst during the Olympics.

"I pretty much ignored Owen Hughes. We were given a top 13 criteria by the Olympic selectors. He did not meet that. It was not my decision. I don't understand the boy's brain.

"He wanted something he could not have. I don't know why he picked on me. He got grumpy and spat the dummy."

Ferguson prefers to look ahead saying both Fouhy and his son Steven have unfinished business.

"Steve is doing some swimming while Ben is taking a break but keeping himself in shape with multisport and some mountain biking. He is doing more paddling than riding though. He is still down at the [canoe] club regularly.

"He is just taking a break from strict kayak training. He was so intense for two years. Nothing got in way of his training. I have never met anyone so focused. I want him to win at the next Olympics."

Having his longtime girlfriend Katie Pocock involved helps Fouhy's focus.

Ferguson said while it is unlikely Pocock's favoured K1 1000m will be introduced in Beijing, he was keen to help her increase her speed.

Ferguson is unsure of Fouhy's plans for next year's world championships in Croatia in August where he would defend his K1 1000m title.

"I'm not going to ask him about that until after he has had a break. I want him ready for Beijing but if he came to me in March, he would be ready to race in April."

Ferguson was surprised at suggestions that Fouhy was giving the sport a break.

"He was talking candidly and it seems his comments were taken too literally. He was surprised it came out like that.

"I hope Ben will compete at our nationals in February but I know he won't unless he feels he would be competitive. Knowing him as I do, I'm sure he will be."

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