Inspired Kiwi teen canoeists target Youth Olympic success

Cyclist Sarah Ulmer inspired the next generation with her golden performance on the track at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Now canoeist Luuka Jones is doing the same with three teens off to October's Youth Olympics.

Just two years ago, one of them didn't even know the sport existed.

Kahlia Cullwick only picked up the sport after a chance opportunity to compete at a schools event, the Aims Games.

"I was with my friend in the school hall and we were going oh look there's a blank sheet for Canoe Slalom so we thought why don't we put our names down for that," she said.

"That means the now 14-year-old missed Jones storm to silver in Rio, "I barely even knew what canoe slalom was at the Olympics."

The Mount Maunganui College student will now wear the silver fern at October's Youth Olympics and she's drawing big praise from the sport's high performance manager Aaron Osborne.

Cullwick will be joined by Tauranga's Finn Anderson, another with serious skill.

The 15-year-old's father put him in a kayak before he even learned to walk and he'll head to Buenos Aires confident after a second placing at the Olympic qualifiers.

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