Young canoe sprinter realises Olympic dream after overcoming career-threatening illness

While Lisa Carrington is undoubtedly the star of the canoe sprint show, her young paddling teammate is also drawing attention.

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Alicia Hoskin, 21, is the youngest canoe sprinter selected to go to Tokyo. Source: 1 NEWS

Alicia Hoskin, 21, will compete in two events at the Tokyo Olympics, no mean feat for someone whose sporting dreams were close to being shattered not so long ago.

The Gisborne-native was diagnosed with a heart condition just before the Junior World Championships four years ago, forced to watch from a hospital bed while her teammates competed.

"I suppose I thought the rushed heart rates that I got were normal, pushing myself in training," she told 1 NEWS.

"At one point they said it would be dangerous to compete in sport or take my heart rate too high.

"Lying in a hospital bed while your teammates are racing at a world championships really forced me to reflect on why I try to race from point A to point B as fast as I can in a kayak."

Surgery and a few years later, she has become the youngest Kiwi canoe sprinter chosen for Tokyo, competing in the K4 500 metre and the K2 500m.

"It’s a really special thing to bring the most out of another paddler and that’s something that Alicia brings which is awesome," canoe sprint coach Gordon Walker said.

"She has a learning mentality and has such a fresh set of eyes," two-time Olympic gold medallist Lisa Carrington said.

Hoskin and Carrington will join Caitlin Regal and Taneale Hatton in the four-person K4 boat, while Hoskin and Hatton would line up together in the K2.

"I feel incredibly grateful for the people who've been on this journey with me and it's pretty crazy to be racing with some of my heroes and role models," a beaming Hoskin told 1 NEWS at the announcement of the squad yesterday.