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Runner-up for Ko at women’s PGA champs

Lydia Ko has come agonisingly close to clinching her third straight golf major, losing a playoff for the women’s PGA championship title in Washington this afternoon.

In the first playoff of the LPGA season, Ko and Canadian Brooke Henderson were locked at six under at the end of four rounds. But a birdie on the first play-off hole made Henderson the youngest ever major championship winner at age 18.

The New Zealand golfing star and world No. 1 went into the final round at the Sahalee Country Club with a one-stroke lead, and played her best round of the tournament with a four-under 67.

 

Bike riders Gaze and Jones bring NZ team to 103

Two young New Zealand riders – Sam Gaze and Trent Jones – have been named to compete in mountain biking and BMX at their first Olympic Games in Rio.

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Gaze, 20, won silver in the 2014 Commonwealth Games cross-country mountain bike race and is currently ranked No. 1 in the under-23 world rankings.  His closest rival, Commonwealth Games and world under-23 champion, Anton Cooper, was not considered for selection on medical grounds.

Jones, 21, is the Oceania BMX men’s champion and this year has been ranked ninth in the world. He will be New Zealand’s only BMX rider in Rio.

The addition of these two riders now brings the New Zealand team total to 103 athletes.

 

Andrew Nicholson makes stunning comeback at Bramham

In his comeback from a life-threatening injury, Andrew Nicholson has won the CCI3* at the Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials in England.

The former world No. 1 and three-time Olympic medallist, who suffered a horrific fall in August, added just four show jumping faults to his dressage score aboard Jet Set IV to finish on 45 penalty points.

Caroline Powell, also on the comeback from injury, was sixth aboard Onwards and Upwards. Nicholson was also seventh on his other mount, Teseo.

In the CIC3* competition, Kiwi Tim Price on Bango was fifth, while his wife Jonelle Price finished third on Faerie Dianimo in the Event Rider Masters. 

 

Kiwi sprinters one-two in Germany

Rio-bound New Zealand track sprinters Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins have had a great start to their Olympic build-up in Europe, with a one-two finish in sprint final at the German Grand Prix.

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All four Kiwi sprinters – Webster, Dawkins, Ethan Mitchell and Zac Williams – qualified for the elimination rounds at Cottbus, with Webster’s 9.942s the fastest in the field.

Webster then fended off Olympic keirin champion Max Levy in the semis, before overcoming Dawkins 2-0 in the final; with Mitchell eighth and Williams 16th.

 

Silver for sailors Maloney and Meech

Alexandra Maloney and Molly Meech have had a superb dress rehearsal for Rio, with a classy medal race win to take silver at Sailing World Cup in Weymouth, England.

In foggy, windy conditions, Maloney and Meech showed great teamwork to win the double-points final race in the 49erFX class, and lift themselves into second place overall.

With world champion Kiwis Peter Burling and Blair Tuke racing in the America’s Cup in Chicago, it was left to the young crew of Logan Dunning Beck and Jack Simpson to carry the New Zealand flag. And they did it with style - winning the 49er title with their best-ever international performance.

Rio-bound crew Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders were 11th overall in the Nacra 17 multihulls, while new OIympian Sam Meech finished 14th in the Laser.

 

Kiwi tennis doubles players on top around the world

New Zealand tennis duo Marcus Daniell and Artem Sitak have won their second ATP World Tour title taking out the Mercedes Cup doubles final in Stuttgart, while fellow Kiwi Michael Venus has won his fourth doubles title of 2016.

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Daniell and Sitak beat the Austrian/French pair of Oliver Marach and Fabrice Martin 6-7, 6-4, 10-8 in a thrilling finale in Germany. The Kiwis won their first World Tour title at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier in February last year.

Meanwhile, Venus and his Croatian doubles partner Mate Pavic won the s-Hertogenbosch tournament in the Netherlands, beating Brit Dominic Inglot and South African Raven Klaasen 3-6 6-3 11-9 in the decider.

 

Willis on target with solid mile

Middle distance star Nick Willis has shown his Olympic build-up is on pace with a season-best time in the mile in the latest Diamond League meet in Oslo.

Willis ran 3:52:26 to finish fourth in the Bislett Dream Mile, but the 2008 Olympic silver medallist wasn’t happy with his tactics – tweeting aspiring milers to "learn from my cautiousness". 

Kenya's triple world champion Asbel Kirop won in 3:51:48, the best time in the world this year. Kirop broke clear of the field early – with the help of two pacemakers - and held on for a comfortable win.

 

Luuka Jones makes quick slalom start in Spain

Luuka Jones made a promising start to her Olympic canoe slalom campaign, storming into the semi-finals at her first World Cup event of the season in Spain.

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The Tauranga K1 paddler, who will compete at her third Olympic Games in Rio, qualified seventh-fastest in her heat in La Seu D'Urgell to go straight to the semis.

But up against tough competition, Jones finished 21st fastest in the semis – 9.8s behind the quickest paddler. Spanish No.1 Maialen Chourrau dominated the final on her home course.

 

Tall Ferns buoyed by Spanish upset

An upset victory over the world No. 3 Spanish side has given the Tall Ferns a boost in confidence as they go into this week’s Olympic women’s basketball qualifying tournament in France.

The New Zealanders shocked the Spanish 54-52, but were brought back down to earth the following day with an 80-60 loss to the same side in their final build-up game.

The Ferns kick off their Olympic qualifier in Nantes on Wednesday morning, playing host nation France, before meeting in Cuba the following day. They will need to win at least one of those pool encounters to progress to the knockout round of eight, and have a shot at one of five spots in Rio.

 

Nyika brothers box for final Rio spots

The boxing Nyika brothers, David and Josh, head into their last chance for Olympic qualification in Azerbaijan this week.

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The Hamilton brothers, who were both eliminated in the Asia and Oceania qualifiers, have a final opportunity to get to Rio through the AIBA World Olympic qualifying tournament in Baku.

David Nyika will have to win the heavyweight division to qualify for Rio, while welterweight Josh is battling for one of five qualifying spots in his division.

Three other Rio hopefuls, Tyson Sykes, Richie Hadlow and Chad Milnes are also heading to Baku from New Zealand shores, competing in the Light Heavy, Light Welter, and Light divisions respectively.

 

Late changes for Black Sticks before Champions Trophy

The Black Sticks women have arrived in England ready for the Champions Trophy - their final major hit-out before Rio.

The New Zealand hockey side will play one-off games against the Netherlands and Belgium this week, before the week-long Champions Trophy starts on Sunday with their first encounter against the world No.1 Dutch side, and then Australia the following day.

The team was forced to make two late changes to the touring team, with veteran Emily Gaddum and Samantha Charlton ruled out with injuries. Kelsey Smith and Julia King were called in to the side for the tournament. 

Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games Lydia Ko Samuel Gaze Trent Jones Andrew Nicholson Caroline Powell Jonelle Price Sam Webster Eddie Dawkins Ethan Mitchell Alexandra Maloney Molly Meech Gemma Jones Jason Saunders Sam Meech Marcus Daniell Nick Willis Luuka Jones David Nyika Chad Milnes Kelsey Smith Hockey Boxing Basketball Canoe/Kayak - Slalom Athletics Tennis Sailing Cycling - Track Equestrian - Eventing Cycling - Mountain Bike Cycling - BMX Golf
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