Published Saturday 11 August 2012

Sailors Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie capped a memorable day for New Zealand at the Olympics today.
Aleh and Powrie picked up the women’s 470 gold medal with a brilliant final-day performance that left their closest rivals, Great Britain, floundering.
New Zealand’s medal haul for the day didn’t stop there, either.
BMX rider Sarah Walker won the silver medal, which helped her to atone for her fourth placing in the event four years ago in Beijing.
The New Zealand women’s hockey team just failed to make it a medal sweep when they fell at the final hurdle, losing 3-1 to Great Britain in the bronze medal play-off match.
New Zealand now has 12 medals, four of them gold, and have climbed back into the top 15 on the Olympic medal table. New Zealand won 10 medals, including three gold, in Beijing in 2008. New Zealand has now won medals in six sports at the London games.
Though Walker was brilliant in her final, the day belonged to Aleh, 26, and Powrie, 24, who formed what they referred to as “Team Polly”.
They began the day level on points with the world champion Great Britain team and the final race, for double points, became a match-racing shootout.
It was really all over by the first mark. The British tacked away from New Zealand and fell behind quickly. After that things got worse for the British, while Aleh and Powrie were superb.
To make things even sweeter, officials shortened the race because of the light conditions, so the New Zealanders’ gold was confirmed all the sooner.
The 470 gold is particularly significant. Except for boardsailing, New Zealand has not won an Olympic sailing gold medal since 1984. And Aleh and Powrie are the first women’s sailors to win a gold for New Zealand since boardsailor Barbara Kendall at Barcelona in 1992.
It was a wonderfully colourful scene on the waters of Weymouth. There were “Go Kiwi” banners everywhere and New Zealand supporters turned out in force.
Aleh and Powrie certainly came through for them.