‘It’s about striving to be better than I was the day before,’ says Lisa Carrington of her golden achievement.

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Lisa Carrington, the Kayak Sprint champion, has just become New Zealand’s most successful and decorated Olympian.

Lisa Carrington. Olympic Gold Medal K1 500. New Zealand. Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Canoe Sprint at the Sea Forest Waterway, Tokyo, Japan, Thursday 5 August 2021. Mandatory credit: © Steve McArthur / www.photosport.nz

She won three gold medals in Tokyo 2020, taking her total to six (five gold and one bronze).

She spoke to RNZ from Tokyo about how she feels about her new title and what it took to get here.

She describes the event as a “very special Olympics,” and says she is still trying to wrap her head around the fact that her years of hard work paid off.

“I know what I’ve put in and it’s been a lot of hard work, but it’s something I’ve wanted to do and constantly get better,” she says.

Lisa Carrington celebrates after winning gold in the women's kayak single 500m final

Lisa Carrington celebrates after winning gold in the women’s kayak single 500m final Photo: AFP or licensors

Carrington hopes that her successes can inspire other Kiwis to “believe and do things that they thought they never could’ve”.

Her goal has always been simply to master own talent and get better with each performance.

“For me to be able to achieve so highly, I guess is to not make it about the results, but for me to be able to do it, to reach more into myself to have reached that potential. It’s just trying to be better than I was the day before.”

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Coming into such intense competition on the world stage, Carrington says she still battles with nerves and fears  – but has found ways to deal with it. Before a race, she faces down the fear by looking down the lane into the water and feeling grateful for the opportunity to compete.

“This is something someone said to me that really resonated, it was just to look down and think what a privilege it is to be feeling these nerves or be feeling how scary it is in that moment. So for me it was just about being grateful in that moment and from there it was like yep, let’s do what I can.

“I think if for me, things that scare me the most are the things that I need to figure out and I guess sometimes they’re telling you the truth, you know, that sometimes we don’t want to hear. And ultimately those scary things you don’t want to look at or shy away from, there’s some gold on the other side of it. ”

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With the Olympics finishing tomorrow, Carrington now faces the journey back to New Zealand and two weeks in MIQ, which she’s seeing as an opportunity to decompress and reflect.

“We’ve got a couple more days here with the team, so I’ll soak up a little more social time before we head back to MIQ. I think I’ll figure it out. Obviously having a good routine is going to be something really important.”

But what she’s most looking forward to is heading back to her hometown of Ōhope to celebrate with her family, friends and most importantly, her dog.

“I mean it’ll be exactly the same as I left it I’m pretty sure, which is awesome and it’s just more getting home to that place, it’s just a beautiful place to be.”

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