First NZ para-waka ama team to win gold

By Peata Melbourne

The New Zealand para team are proud of their achievements at this years IVF Va'a World Sprint Championships in Pape'ete Tahiti.

The V12 mixed team claiming gold in the 500m final, the first time a para team from New Zealand has made the number one spot.

Jac Courtier, AJ MacDonald and Marcus Thompson also claimed first place in their individual races at the event.

Despite feeling nervous, Thompson says he's remained confident throughout the lead-up to his V1 race.

"The Tahitian guys that I was paddling with- never seen them paddle and I could see one on my shoulder and quite often they're very strong finishers, and I was sucking air from halfway onwards but I hung on and got the win," says Thompson.

The para-paddler even likened the race that is being held in the Pape'ete suburb of Pīra'e to Ōtaki, except with daylight instead of the dark and windy nights he'd endured during training to compete at this year's event.

"All the nights training with my kids on the lake and my son Pedro lifting the boat in and out every day for me, and my daughter Fern helping coach me on the 1s and through with our national coach."

Tomorrow the para-athletes compete in their last day of races, the 250m sprints and a straight final for the Para Mixed V6 1000m.