New Zealand's Road to Rio: 14 - 20 June

Ten out of ten for Rio-bound rowers

New Zealand’s Olympic rowers have had the perfect final shakedown - with all 10 Rio-bound boats making the podium at the last World Cup regatta of the season in Poznan, Poland. 

While not all of their Rio rivals were in attendance on Lake Malta, the Kiwis still clearly set the standard with five gold, three silver and two bronze.

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The unassailable men’s pair of Hamish Bond and Eric Murray started the medal haul, while further golds went to men's single sculler Mahe Drysdale, men's double scullers Chris Harris and Robbie Manson, the men's lightweight four and the women's eight. 

Silver medals were scooped up by single sculler Emma Twigg, the women’s pair and the women’s double sculls; while bronze went to the lightweight women’s double sculls and the men’s eight.

 

Judoka Darcina Manuel to realize 16-year dream in Rio

Young New Zealand judoka Darcina Manuel will compete in the women’s under-57kg judo division at the Rio Olympic Games.

The 23-year-old from Gisborne, who now trains in Perth, is looking to follow on from the bronze medal she won at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

"For 16 years I have been working towards this goal and it means the world to me,” says Manuel, who recently won gold at the 2016 Oceania championships in Canberra.

 

Walsh hammers out big win in Stockholm

Tom Walsh has returned to his winning ways at the Stockholm Diamond League meet, collecting gold in the men’s shot put with a throw of 21.13m.

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The Christchurch builder, who was runner-up in the first two Diamond League competitions this season, nailed a series of throws over 21m to cruise to victory in Sweden.

It was his first victory his brilliant world indoor championship gold medal in Portland in March, where he threw 21.78m.

 

Tough start for Black Sticks in Champions Trophy

The Black Sticks women have had a frustrating start to the Champions Trophy in London – with back-to-back losses to the Netherlands and Australia.

The New Zealanders opened their account with a 6-2 defeat at the hands of the world No. 1 Dutch side, despite sitting at 2-2 in the third quarter.

With little time to recover, the Black Sticks lost to arch-rivals Australia 3-1 overnight. Trailing by one at halftime, the Kiwis were well in the game but struggled after copping two yellow cards in the final 15 minutes. Anita McLaren scored her side's only goal from a penalty corner.

 

Nyika through to second round in final Olympic bid

Commonwealth heavyweight champion David Nyika has made a strong start to his final campaign for Rio, winning his opening bout at the last-chance Olympic boxing qualifying tournament in Azerbaijan.

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Nyika knocked out his opponent, Kevin Prudence Kuadjovi of Togo, late in the first round, and will now come up against third-seeded Dutchman Roy Korving tomorrow.  He needs to win the heavyweight division to earn an Olympic spot.

Three other Kiwis gunning for Rio have been eliminated in the first round – lightweight fighter Chad Milnes, light-heavyweight Tyson Sykes, and welterweight Josh Nyika.  Light-welterweight Richard Hadlow is still to fight his first round against Australian David Biddle.

 

Luuka Jones makes second semis in a week

For the second week in a row, Olympian Luuka Jones has made the K1 women’s semifinals at the canoe slalom World Cup in France.

In the third World Cup event of the season, Jones needed a repechage to get through to the semis on the tricky Pau Pyrenees Whitewater Stadium course, but had an improved showing finishing 15th overall.

Fellow Olympian Mike Dawson missed the cut in the men’s K1 repechage, but young Tauranga paddler Callum Gilbert got through to the semis for the third week in a row, finishing 29th overall.

 

Tall Blacks take bronze in Atlas Challenge

The Tall Blacks have finished third at the Atlas Challenge in China, in their final run up to the Olympic men’s basketball qualifying tournament.

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The New Zealanders won a fiercely fought play-off match against China, 90-84, on Sunday night, after losing the semi-final to a fired-up Lithuania 80-65. Tom Abercrombie scored a game high 27 points against the Chinese.

The team now sets up camp in Latvia for 10 days to prepare for the Olympic qualifier in Manila, starting on July 5.

 

Precious pounamu presented to NZ Olympic team

In the week the Olympic medals for Rio were revealed, the New Zealand team were handed their pounamu taonga from Ngai Tahu.

For the past decade, every Olympian has been given a pounamu pendant to carry a piece of home with them while competing at the games.  New Zealand team Chef de Mission, Rob Waddell, received the pounamu on behalf of the team at a ceremony in Christchurch.

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"They instil a real sense of identity and pride in all of us, and we know wearing the pendants plays a role in enhancing athletes' performance at the Olympic Games," the 2000 Olympic rowing gold medallist said.

Meanwhile, in Rio, the 2016 Olympic medals were revealed, with a sustainable twist.  Around 30% of the silver used will be recycled waste from old mirrors, solder and x-ray plates, while the ribbons handing around the athletes’ necks will be woven from recycled plastic bottles. 

Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games Tom Walsh Luuka Jones Tom Abercrombie Darcina Manuel David Nyika Mike Dawson Anita McLaren Hamish Bond Eric Murray Mahe Drysdale Chris Harris Robbie Manson Boxing Athletics Rowing Hockey Canoe/Kayak - Slalom Basketball
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