New Zealand's Road to Rio: 17 - 23 May 2016

NZ paddlers make a big splash in Germany

Kiwi paddlers have collected a gold, silver and bronze medal haul at the first World Cup of 2016, with Lisa Carrington continuing her global domination of the K1 200m.

The reigning Olympic and world champion convincingly won her signature event in Duisburg, Germany - her 12th-consecutive major title in the K1 200m - with fellow Kiwi Aimee Fisher finishing a promising eighth in the same race. Carrington then faced stiff opposition in the K1 500m, picking up silver behind Hungary’s Danuta Kozak, a former world champion over the distance.

2Canoe

The women’s K4 crew of Aimee Fisher, Jaimee Lovett, Caitlin Ryan and Kayla Imrie then stormed to a bronze medal in the K4 200m, after finishing fifth in the K4 500.

 

Valerie Adams reaches another milestone in Morocco

Double Olympic champion Valerie Adams has produced her best throw in top level competition for almost two years to win shot put gold at the Diamond League meet in Morocco.

8Val2

In her comeback from injury and surgery, Adams threw a season-best 19.68m to claim victory overnight. Her throw was the third best by any female athlete at an indoor or outdoor event in 2016.

Next stop on Adams’ road to Rio is Rome - another Diamond League event in a fortnight. “Solid competition for miss ADAMS with a seasons best and a victory. Next stop Rome. Thanks for the continued support,” Adams tweeted.

 

Matthews breaks Olympic 1500m barrier in the US

New Zealand 1500m runner Julian Matthews has made a strong case to join Nick Willis in his first Olympic Games, after he ran under the IAAF standard of 3m 36.20s at a meet in the United States.

Julian Matthews

Matthews ran a personal best in finishing second in the 1500m race in Swarthmore near Philadelphia in a time of 3m 36.14s. A former Junior Tall Black basketballer, Matthews finished ninth in the 1500m at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Wellington runner Hamish Carson came agonisingly close to also meeting the 1500m Olympic qualifying time twice during the week.  He ran 3m 26.25s at Swarthmore, then was less than half a second off the mark when he won the Windsor Open meet in Canada on Sunday. Matthews was third in that race.

 

Strong start for Kiwi rowers at Last Chance regatta

New Zealand rowers have made a strong start in their final chance to stake a claim for the Rio Olympic Games at the qualification regatta in Lucerne.

The women’s quad -  Sarah Gray, Lucy Spoors, Georgia Perry and Brooke Donoghue - scored an important heat win to advance directly to their final on Wednesday morning, while the men’s quad of Nathan Flannery, Jade Uru, George Bridgewater and John Storey sprinted home to pip the United States on the line to also progress directly to their final.

Four

Single sculler Emma Twigg displayed her class immediately as she easily won her heat in an impressive time. The lightweight men's double sculls crew made it to the semifinals with a third placing in their heat, while the men's four faces a repechage.

 

Sam Gaze goes two from two in World U-23 mountain bike series

Kiwi mountain biker Sam Gaze has notched up his second straight victory in the UCI Cross Country World Cup, with his latest under-23 race win in Germany.

Gaze

Following up his victory at the opening round in Australia, the 2014 Commonwealth silver medallist crossed the line 37s ahead of Frenchman Titouan Carod, after kicking away with two laps remaining, in Albstadt on Sunday. He has opened up a 50-point gap at the top of the Under-23 World Cup standings, with next weekend's event in La Bresse, France.

Fellow Kiwi and world under-23 champion Anton Cooper battled with illness to finish 51st in the elite men’s race, while Kate Fluker rode an impressive race in a stacked elite women's field to finish 23rd.

 

Michael Venus reaches tennis doubles final on eve of French Open

New Zealand tennis player Michael Venus has fallen just short of claiming a fourth ATP doubles title of the year on the eve of the French Open.

Michael Venus

Second seeds Venus and Croatian partner Mate Pavic – who won in Auckland this year -came close to defending their Nice ATP tour title in France but were defeated in the final by the top-seeded Colombian pair of Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 4-6, 6-4, 10-8.

The French Open at Roland Garros will be the last roll of the dice for New Zealand's doubles players hoping to qualify for the Rio Olympic Games. Venus is one of three Kiwis in the doubles draw at Roland Garros with Artem Sitak playing with American Nicholas Monroe and Marcus Daniell teaming with American Brian Baker.

 

Pritchard through to round of 16 at women’s boxing world champs

London Olympian Alexis Pritchard has won her second round bout at the women's boxing world championships, keeping alive her hopes of qualifying for Rio.

Alexis

Pritchard, who won her first fight against Moldovan Lilia Venglovscaia by a knockout, took her second bout by a 2-1 majority decision over Ayako Minowa of Japan.

The 32-year-old Aucklander needs a top-two finish to book her place in the lightweight 60kg class at Rio. The two other New Zealanders contesting the world championships – middleweight Deanne Carpenter and flyweight Sunita Lallu - both lost their first bouts.

 

Andrea Hewitt takes tri silver in France

Andrea Hewitt has claimed yet another podium place in 2016, this time on the first leg of the Grand Prix Triathlon for Cancer Research in Dunkerque, France, overnight.

Andrea Hewitt2

Hewitt – the first athlete chosen for the New Zealand Olympic team in Rio – finished second overall, 14 seconds behind Englishwoman and 2014 Commonwealth Gold medallist Vicky Holland (who also won the teams event).  Fellow Kiwis Anneke Forrest Jenkins and Maddie Dillon were 17th and 31st respectively.

In the men’s event, Ryan Sissons was the best of the Kiwis in 13th, while under-23 athlete Sam Ward finished 34th.

 

NZ Sevens take the plate in London

The All Black Sevens have recovered from a shock quarterfinal loss to the United States to win the plate final from Argentina in the London Sevens.

London Sevens

The New Zealanders lost to the North Americans 42-12 after Perry Baker scored four times. They then beat the South Americans, 29-14, to take home the plate. Scotland won their first ever sevens tournament title stunning South Africa 27-26 in the final.

New Zealand will go into the inaugural Olympic sevens competition in Rio ranked third after finishing the 2015-16 World Series 23 points adrift of champions Fiji, with South Africa grabbing second place.

 

Changing of the guard in the Tall Blacks

There’s been a changing of the guard in the Tall Blacks basketball side named to travel to Asia to prepare for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying tournament in the Philippines in July.

Head coach Paul Henare says an exciting new generation of players has emerged alongside the experienced “heart and soul” of the team - Mika Vukona, Tom Abercrombie, Corey Webster, Isaac Fotu and Rob Loe. Among the promising young players in the 14-strong squad are Tai Webster, Ethan Rusbatch and Shea Ili.

 

The squad will be pared back to 12 to go on to Europe for further preparation before the qualifier for Rio in Manila from July 5.

Rio 2016 Lisa Carrington Aimee Fisher Jaimee Lovett Caitlin Ryan Kayla Imrie Valerie Adams Julian Matthews Hamish Carson Sarah Gray Nathan Flannery John Storey George Bridgewater Jade Uru Emma Twigg Samuel Gaze Anton Cooper Michael Venus Alexis Pritchard Andrea Hewitt Ryan Sissons Maddie Dillon Paul Henare Mika Vukona Tom Abercrombie Corey Webster Ethan Rusbatch Basketball Rugby - Sevens Triathlon Boxing Tennis Cycling - Mountain Bike Rowing Athletics Canoe/Kayak - Sprint
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