Canoeing: Coach Gordon Walker takes control of NZ men's programme

Lisa Carrington & Gordn Walker
Lisa Carrington & Gordn Walker at the Halberg Awards. Photo credit: Photosport

Halberg Award-winning canoe coach Gordon Walker - the man behind two-time Olympic champion Lisa Carrington - is taking on a new challenge within the sport.

Walker has won three consecutive Coach of the Year titles at the national sporting awards, primarily for his work with a national women's programme that reaped a gold and four silver medals at last year's world sprint championships.

Now, he has taken up a technical director's role that will also encompass a men's team that has languished by comparison in recent years.

"For a start, we need to make sure we get the right people around the athletes," Walker told Newshub. "The first step is to make sure we get a really good coach, who will be the right coach to support the paddlers.

"The next step is the collective IP [intellectual property] and collective energy that the sport has to support the men to become the best paddlers they can be.

"It won't just be me - I'll be a small cog in the wheel, to be fair - it'll be the coach and some of the past paddlers. Everyone needs to get behind this to make sure the men can start to develop and feel like they have all they need."

Ian Ferguson, Paul MacDonald, Alan Thompson, Grant Bramwell and Ben Fouhy have all previously won Olympic medals among the men.

"One of the things I feel strongly about is learning together, and there are a lot of places and a lot of spaces you can learn from," said Walker. "You don't always know where they are, so maybe facilitating some of those opportunities is something I can do.

"We certainly have got a strong heritage in men's kayaking as well. There will be lots of things those people are prepared to share, I'm sure.

"But at the same time, we have to look forward and embrace this opportunity to work as a coaching team."

Walker will continue to work with Carrington, 29, who has played an increasing part in the women's team boats over recent years, as she builds towards a third straight K1 200 crown at next year's Tokyo Olympics.

"Over the last couple of years in particular, the roles that we both play within the sport have changed," said Walker.

"There's a lot of things we both need to do to make sure it works, but it's exciting for the sport and a great opportunity for a lot more people."