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World Championships & Commercial Contract Up Next

Media release: 07 December 2016

World Championships and Commercial Contract Up Next for Kiwi Olympians

Kiwi Olympic medallists Luuka Jones and Sam Meech have secured new commercial deals with one of NZ’s largest food manufacturers as they turn their attention to their next sporting challenges.

Jones, whose silver medal in the K100 Canoe Slalom was one of the Games’ nice surprises, will chase double glory in Tokyo in 2016, while bronze medallist Laser sailor Meech is out to conquer a massive 200+ boat world championships fleet.

The pair announced their plans at a Sanitarium Up & Go event which will see them appear in nationwide promotional campaign for the beverage brand.

Changes to Olympic rules mean Jones will now be able to compete in both a canoe (where you kneel on the craft and have a single bladed paddle as opposed to sitting in a kayak and using a double-bladed paddle, she explains) and the kayak discipline in which she meddled in Rio.

Chasing success in two disciplines may be a challenge, but it is one the 28-year-old is up for.

Her medal in Rio may have surprised a few people but Jones herself was confident she could land a place on the podium.

Moving to Nottingham, England at the age of 18 to train alongside the English squad as a full-time athlete she says was the key to her success.

“It made a huge difference, learning how to be a high performance athlete and being able to dedicate every day to getting better.

“I knew that I was capable of doing that and so did my coach and people around me in the sport. But it was quite nice to be an underdog going into the Olympics. There were too many people putting their hopes on me for a medal.”

She says that certainly won’t be the case in Tokyo in 2020.

My training involves just the physical side of things but the mental side as well. You’ve got to fuel yourself for both physical and mental gains. So nutrition is hugely important. Nutrient timing, making sure that you are fuelled enough for your session and then to recover from your session, is crucial. You do notice when your nutrition is on point and when it is not. I do suffer on the days I where I am not as stringent.”

Twenty five year-old Meech says his next goal is to win a world championship – an even tougher ask than medalling at the Olympics as countries can have more than one competitor, swelling the fleet to over 200 world class sailors.

Meech says much of his childhood (aged 7-12) was spent on a yacht sailing around the world with his parents and Sister Molly (also a medallist in Rio in the 49er-FX class).

“Mum and Dad did most of the sailing, Molly and I were just along for the ride,” he says.

That changed when the Meech family returned to settle in New Zealand.

After a stint in land-locked Hamilton – when they got their sailing fix on the city’s lake – the family relocated to Mount Maunganui, with the siblings diving straight into competitive racing.

Sam quickly graduated from the P-class to the laser – and never looked back.

“The laser is the boat that you see at people’s batches,” he said. “The boat I race is exactly the same. It is the most competitive class of racing. That’s why I love it.”


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