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Jade and Liliana Tierney, kayaking siblings who dream huge

This story was initially released on Locker Space and is republished with permission.

As she paddles previous Lisa Carrington in a boat obtained from the Olympic champion’s club, Cook Islands teen Jade Tierney dares to dream.

Will she one day be as great as Carrington, who, yet again, swept all before her at the kayak nationals at Lake Karapiro?

Carrington won her tenth K1 200 gold medal at the nationals on the weekend, then followed it up with gold in the K1 500 and K2 500, partnering with Australian Ella Beere. It was another dominant efficiency by the world’s undisputed queen of kayaking, who’s also end up being a pied piper.

In the largest field ever assembled at the nationals, a record 140 of 322 rivals were female. It’s clear there is a Carrington result as many were girls, with the juniors typically requiring 3 or four heats – something that was unprecedented simply a couple of years ago.


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Carrington’s existence wasn’t lost on Tierney, who hopes to compose herself into the record books in just a few years.

The 14- year-old was among 12 paddlers at the regatta from the recently established Cook Islands Canoe and Kayak Club in Rarotonga – a club so under-resourced they needed to obtain gear from Carrington’s Eastern Bay of Plenty club.

Cook Island kayakers Jade Tierney, left, and Genesis Ngatikao were thrilled to share the same body of water as their idol, Lisa Carrington, at the national champs in Lake Karapiro on the weekend.


Cook Island kayakers Jade Tierney, left, and Genesis Ngatikao were thrilled to share the exact same body of water as their idol, Lisa Carrington, at the national champs in Lake Karapiro on the weekend.

In your home, they have 19 hulls, and from that have made 9 usable K1 boats and two K2 boats.

“But even the worst boat here is much better than our finest boat,” club founder and coach Ron Rolleston states, as he gazes throughout the bank of Lake Karapiro covered in boats.

“It works for us though, since when the kids come here and see they are in good boats, they truly give it an excellent fracture.”

That appeared in their results, with Tierney assisting the Cook Islands to third in the U16 K4 500, with her younger sister, 13- year-old Liliana, paddling in the team.

It was a hard regatta for Jade, but she had some reputable results, consisting of 5th in the U16 area of the gruelling 5km race, with her K2 colleague Genesis Ngatikao a minute behind her in sixth.

Jade also won her U16 K1 200 heat and was a decent seventh in the last – decent due to the fact that this is a girl who had not even beinged in a K1 boat a year ago.

Coach Rolleston, who has a background in browse lifesaving at Tauranga’s Omanu club and was a fitness trainer during his 13 years in the New Zealand Navy, is positive history beckons for the Tierney siblings, and the Cooks.

“Within 2 years we will have group boats at the Youth Olympics, and within the following 2 years we will be heading for the big program,” he states, describing the Paris Olympics in 2024.

It’s a kayaking version of Cool Runnings, the remarkable tale of the Jamaican bobsleigh team that completed at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Canada, and were eternalized in a motion picture loosely based upon their feats.

Though New Zealand-based siblings Ella and Bryden Nicholas have represented the Cook Islands in slalom canoeing at the Olympics, the small country has never had a flat water kayaker at the Games.

And particularly not a professional athlete based in the Cooks.

Lisa Carrington is a big inspiration to kayakers in the Cook Islands.


Lisa Carrington is a huge motivation to kayakers in the Cook Islands.

That, states Rolleston, is the goal. And he’s positive it will happen. If not with the Tierney siblings, then among their teammates. Or the small tidal bore of would-be paddlers keen to being in a K1 back home.

“There’s substantial interest in the house, but since of the lack of resources, there’s just a limited number we can coach,” Rolleston states.

“We are like Cool Runnings in the regard that we come from a minnows background. There’s a great deal of natural ability but it’s focusing that ability on one sport and keeping it there that’s the issue.”

Tim Tierney, whose family own a restaurant and coffee shop in Rarotonga, says the commitment and determination of his children makes the investment in their paddling worthwhile.

However he knows the Olympics are not a fairy tale. Only results can get you there.

“You still need to qualify even if you’re from a small nation,” he says.

In her soft, shy, teenage voice, Jade Tierney says she loves contending and is driven by improvements in her times.

When inquired about the dream of paddling at the Olympics, she says: “It would make all the training worthwhile – it would be an excellent feeling.”

She admits getting a buzz when she paddles past Carrington, not simply at Lake Karapiro, however also on Auckland’s Lake Pupuke where the Tierney siblings have trained given that late November with the North Shore club.

Both are water infants, having actually matured in and on the lagoons that circle Rarotonga and paddling oe vaka, the Cook’s variation of waka ama.

Tim took the household (including their 2 younger boys) on a seven-month odyssey that has seen them train, compete and vacation in Australia, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

At a regatta in Savona, in north west Italy, the Tierney siblings were provided with a prize as the organisers’ way of stating thank you for travelling all the way from the Cook Islands to complete in their occasion.

“It’s been a great deal of trains and airplanes,” says Liliana, “but it’s been enjoyable and interesting – and tiring”.

She’s liked being at the nationals and training with the Kiwi women at the North Shore club. She’s seen her times enhance, and laughs that she is closing in on her big sis.

Yes, the Olympics is the objective, but when you’re 13 that’s too far. In the meantime, Jade is the target.

“And I’m not far off her,” Liliana says with a smile.

This story was originally released on Newsroom and is republished with consent

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