Bronze propels Schmidt closer to Rio trampoline goal
Kiwi trampolinist Dylan Schmidt has won bronze at the Pacific Rim Championships in Washington – a week before he makes his final bid for a place in the Rio Olympic Games.
After finishing fifth in the preliminaries at the high-profile Pacific event, Schmidt lifted his performance another notch to take bronze in the final, behind Russian Dmitry Ushakov – Olympic silver medallist in London – and American Jeffrey Gluckstein.
Schmidt was “really happy” with his medal-winning performance, which he saw as an ideal build-up to the Olympic test event in Rio this week, where he will try to qualify for the Olympics in August. If he’s successful, he will be the first athlete to represent New Zealand in the Olympic trampoline event.
Black Sticks women triumph in Hawke’s Bay Cup
The untouchable Black Sticks women have won the Hawke’s Bay Cup with a thrilling 3-2 win over Japan in yesterday’s final.
After finishing runners-up last year, the New Zealand women’s hockey side won every one of their games in the eight-nation tournament, bolstering their confidence in the Olympic build-up.
A valiant 3-2 win over world No. 3 Australia in the semifinal set the Black Sticks up for a final encounter with Japan (currently ranked 10th). The Black Sticks scored three unanswered goals through Olivia Merry, Gemma Flynn and Kayla Whitelock, before the Japanese struck back with two goals in the final five minutes.
Australia beat China 3-1 for the bronze medal.
Gutsy tri bronze for Hewitt on the Gold Coast
Andrea Hewitt continues to go from strength to strength in her build-up to Rio with a gutsy third-place finish in the Gold Coast world series triathlon event on Saturday.
In her first Olympic distance event since the death of her coach and fiancé Laurent Vidal, Hewitt dug in deep stick with winner Helen Jenkins of Great Britain on much of the run, after they broke away on the cycle leg.
Jenkins held out world No. 1 American Gwen Jorgensen – who suffered her first race loss since 2014 – in the dash for the finishline, with Hewitt crossing just a second behind.
Fellow New Zealanders Nicky Samuels finished 20th, Simone Ackermann 26th and Rebecca Spence 29th.
All Black Sevens learn tough lessons in Hong Kong
New Zealand sevens coach Gordon Tietjens knows his side will take plenty of lessons for Rio from their runners-up performance at the legendary Hong Kong Sevens tournament over the weekend.
After losing stars Tim Mikkelson and Sam Dickson to injury, and going into extra time in their semifinal, the New Zealanders ran out of steam in a rain-soaked final, losing 21-7 to the all-conquering Fijians.
Tietjens was proud of the efforts of his depleted team, who battled the elements to beat Wales 19-7 in the quarterfinal, but had to endure an extra-time semifinal tussle with South Africa, finally overhauling them 12-7.
The final result has pushed the Fijians further into the lead in the world series rankings on 128 points, five points ahead of New Zealand with South Africa one point back in third.
Final fightback just falls short for Women’s Sevens
The New Zealand women’s sevens are still searching for their first world series title of the season after losing to Australia in the final of the Atlanta tournament yesterday.
After beating France, 24-7, in the quarterfinal and England, 24-19, in the semi, the New Zealand women struggled to initially find their feet in the final, as the Australians raced out to a 19-0 lead.
The New Zealanders struck back in the second half – with Selica Winiata scoring her second try right on full-time – but it wasn’t quite enough to topple the Australians, who took the title with a 24-19 victory, and furthered their lead to 14 points over New Zealand in the overall series standings.
Black Sticks men stay on top in Malaysia
The chances of the Black Sticks men defending their title at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup have been boosted by two strong wins in a row in Malaysia.
The New Zealand men’s hockey side beat Pakistan 5-3 on Saturday before toppling Japan 4-1 in 37-degree heat last night. Nick Wilson, Simon Child, Nic Woods and Hugo Inglis found the back of the goal in the stifling conditions.
The so-far undefeated Black Sticks are now top of the table and will play World No. 1 men’s side Australia tomorrow in their penultimate round-robin match before meeting India.
Sprint cyclists dash into NZ Olympic team
Four sprint cyclists have boosted the New Zealand Olympic team for Rio to 52 athletes after their selection last week.
The world champion men’s team sprint trio of Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins have been joined by women’s sprinter Natasha Hansen as the first New Zealand cyclists to race in Rio.
While Mitchell and Dawkins competed in London where they finished fifth, it will be the first Olympics for Webster, a triple junior world champion. Hansen, who finished fifth in the women’s individual sprint at this year’s worlds, also rode at the 2012 Olympic Games.
Two more swimmers dive into Rio contention
Corey Main and Matthew Hutchins have added their names to the list of New Zealand swimmers who have posted Olympic qualifying standard times, with stellar performances at the Canadian Olympic trials last week.
Main, an Aucklander attending the University of Florida, clocked 54.27s in the 100m backstroke, bettering the FINA A time of 54.36s.
Canterbury swimmer Hutchins, on scholarship at the University of Wisconsin, bettered the qualifying standard for the 400m freestyle by over half a second with his time of 3m 49.84s.
Danny Lee rallies for top 20 finish at The Masters
New Zealand golfer Danny Lee has climbed into the top 20 on the final leaderboard of The Masters at Augusta National after a determined fightback in the last round this morning.
Lee opened the tournament with an outstanding four-under 68 on Friday, and was tied for third halfway through the prestigious tournament, until a disastrous seven-over third round dropped him out of contention.
However, he recovered on the last day - birdying two of the last three holes to shoot 71 for his final round - and lifting him to a tie for 17th.
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Gymnastics - Trampoline
Lee, who has his sights set on representing New Zealand in golf at Rio, ended the tournament nine shots behind the winner of the Masters’ “Green Jacket”, Englishman Danny Willett.