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By Micheal Warren

 Throughout February, New Zealand athletes have been performing at the highest level on the world stage. In Rugby 7s, the New Zealand men’s and women’s team won the Sydney 7’s competition and look good to finish within the top four nations at the 2019 World Series. A top-four finish would qualify New Zealand for the Tokyo Olympic Games. New Zealand sailors have also won medals at the Sailing World Cup in Miami, and our hockey teams have been competing in the FIH Pro League  

To date New Zealand has already qualified athletes to compete in three sports in Tokyo in 2020: Equestrian, Football and Sailing. As 2019 continues, expect that number to increase.

Hockey

New Zealand first sent a hockey team to the Olympic Games for the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne.

Olympiad

Mens

Women's

1956

6th

No women's event

1960

5th

No women's event

1964

13th

No women’s event

1968

7th

No women’s event

1972

9th

No women’s event

1976

GOLD

No women's event

1980

Did not Participate

No women's event

1984

7th

6th

1988

Did Not Participate

Did Not Participate

1992

8th

8th

1996

Did Not Participate

Did Not Participate

2000

Did Not Participate

6th

2004

6th

6th

2008

7th

12th

2012

9th

4th

2016

7th

4th

 

A sixth and fifth place for New Zealand in 1956 and 1960 were encouraging for New Zealand, but it wasn’t until 1976 when New Zealand won its first and to date only Olympic hockey medal. New Zealand was best considered an outside chance of a medal in 1976 and at the end of pool play, New Zealand had to play Spain for a playoff to qualify for the semi-finals. New Zealand won in extra time and faced the Netherlands for a place in the final. Once again, the game went to extra time where New Zealand prevailed 2-1 to win through the gold medal game against Australia who beat Pakistan 2-1.

The final was held on 30 July 1976 and the all Trans-Tasman final was a tight game. Tony Ineson scored for New Zealand just after half-time to take the lead. The final minutes were a tense affair as Australia launched an assault on the New Zealand goal. Bodies were placed on the line with goalkeeper Trevor Manning shattering his kneecap while saving an Australian attempt on goal. The equalizer Australia were seeking never came and New Zealand won the gold medal.

The best result for the men’s team following Montreal was a sixth place in Athens in 2004.

The women’s team made their Olympic debut in 1984 in Los Angeles and finished in sixth place. The past two Olympiads in London and Rio were the best for New Zealand who just missed out on a medal, finishing in fourth place.

Olympic qualification for the men and women’s teams will take place at the Oceania Cup which will be held in Rockhampton in September 2019.

Triathlon

Triathlon made its Olympic debut at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. In the women’s event, Evelyn Williamson finished in 22nd place. There were high hopes in the men’s event for Hamish Carter. Ranked number one in the world at the time, finished in 26th place. New Zealand’s best result in Sydney was Craig Watson who finished in 16th place. The third New Zealander Ben Bright finished in 38th place.

While Sydney ended in disappointment for New Zealand, Athens would be the opposite. Hamish Carter was once again on the start line in Athens, alongside Bevan Docherty and Nathan Richmond. Midway through the bike leg of the event, both Carter and Docherty were amongst the leading six athletes and looking strong. New Zealanders dared to hope a medal was on the horizon. That hope crystallised mid-way through the 10km run when Carter, Docherty and Sven Riederer of Switzerland edged ahead. Both Carter and Docherty looked strong and as the run continued a gold-silver double looked increasingly likely. In the end, Carter won the day and in the space of four years went from zero to hero to win the gold medal with Docherty taking the silver.

 

The gold-silver would be just the third time New Zealand two medals in the same event (1964 men’s 1500m Peter Snell gold and John Davies bronze; 1996 equestrian individual eventing Blyth Tait gold and Sally Clark silver). The third New Zealander Nathan Richmond finished in 33rd place.

In the women’s event, Samantha Warriner finished in 18th place.

Bevan Docherty once again lined up in Beijing in 2008 and won the bronze medal behind Jan Frodeno of Germany and 2000 Olympic champion Simon Whitfield. Shane Reid finished in 34th place and Kris Gemmell finished in 39th place.

In the women’s event, Andrea Hewitt was the best of the New Zealanders, finishing in 8th place. Debbie Tanner was 10th and Samantha Warriner finished in 16th place.

At the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Bevan Docherty lined up in his third Olympic Games, finishing in 12th place. Fellow New Zealander Kris Gemmell in his second Olympic Games finished in 15th place. Ryan Sissons rounded out the New Zealand performance in 33rd place. In the women’s event, two New Zealanders finished inside the top 10: Andrea Hewitt (6th) and Kate McIlroy (10th). The third New Zealander, Nicky Samuels finished in 35th.

Rio hosted the 2016 Olympic Games and Ryan Sissons, competing at his second Olympic Games finished in 17th place. Tony Dodds was 21st. In the women’s event, Andrea Hewitt, competing at her third Olympic Games was 7th, and Nicky Samuels was 13th.

It's likely New Zealand’s unbroken participation in triathlon will continue in 2020 in Tokyo. A mixed team event will also make its debut in Tokyo. New Zealand won a bronze medal in this event at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

Athens 2004 Montreal 1976 Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games Hamish Carter Bevan Docherty Hockey Triathlon
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