The silver medal of trap shooter Natalie Rooney was by far the highlight of New Zealand’s efforts today in Rio.
Rooney was extremely unlucky not to get to London for the 2012 Olympics. New Zealand earned only one shooting berth for those Olympics, and Rooney was selected. However, rifle shooter Ryan Taylor challenged the selection and was successful, so Rooney missed out.
She made no mistake this time. The shooters had a tough day because the wind, especially earlier on, was so strong, but Rooney looked calm and composed throughout.
She had to win a shoot-off against American Corey Cudgell just to get to the final.
The final, Rooney against Australian Catherine Skinner, could not have been closer. The New Zealander took an early lead, then was pulled back and it was 8-8 before the Australian edged ahead to win 12-11.
Rooney, whose father Gary was in the stands, said winning the silver medal was an incredible feeling.
“I haven’t had the best of luck in the past. To finally crack it at the Olympics is awesome.”
She certainly gave her home town of Timaru something to celebrate when they woke up to the news. Rooney is New Zealand’s first Olympic shooting medallist since Ian Ballinger in 1968.
It was really the women’s day for New Zealand.
The New Zealand sevens rugby team had to dig really deep to overcome a fired up United States side in their quarter-final. The New Zealanders finally squeezed home 5-0 to book a semi-final clash against Great Britain. The United States match emphasised yet again nothing can be taken for granted at an Olympic Games.
Meanwhile the women’s hockey team opened their Olympic campaign in emphatic style, beating South Korea 4-1. There are whispers that the New Zealanders are a team to watch. They meet Germany tomorrow and hockey fans will have a better idea after that match.
The New Zealand men battled through to a 2-2 draw against Great Britain and now need to put together a couple of good winning performance to assure themselves of a quarter-final berth.
The strong wind caused the cancellation of the rowing today and made life difficult for the women’s road cyclists, who endured nearly four hours of hard slog. New Zealander Linda Villumsen looked good throughout and finished in a bunch, being credited with 23rd. Villumsen is always a strong road racer, but her big event, the time trial, is still to come.
Tauranga paddler Mike Dawson, who was 15th in the K1 slalom in London in 2012, seems to have closed in on the field since then. He had a fine first-up effort and his 88.91s was good enough for fourth. He slipped slightly in the second run, with 90.86s, but still finished the day eighth of the 15 qualifiers and in good shape for the final.
Today was the second day of the dressage section of the equestrian three-day eventing. Things didn’t go entirely to plan. On the first day Mark Todd scored 44 and Tim Price 47. Clarke Johnstone on Balmoral Sensation had a good round today and was disappointed to be awarded only 46.5. Jonelle Price, usually so strong in the dressage, found Faerie Dianimo a little difficult to control and finished with a score of 49.5.
The New Zealand team is in sixth place going into today’s tough cross-country section of the three-day event.
Auckland swimmer specialist Corey Main squeaked into the semi-finals of the 100m backstroke with a personal best performance.
Main, 21, recorded 53.99s to grab the final qualifying spot. He had 0.12s to spare over the 17th swimmer. The fastest qualifier was Frenchman Camille Lacourt in 52.96s. In the semi-finals, Main was somewhat off the pace. He swam 54.29 for 15th place overall.
However, the other two New Zealand swimmers involved in today’s heats, including freestyle star Lauren Boyle, failed to advance.
Boyle, swimming in the 400m freestyle, recorded 4min 07.90s, which turned out to be good enough only for 14th, with eight going through to the final. The fastest qualifier was American superfish Katie Ledecky, potentially one of the stars of the Rio games. Though never stretching herself, she swam 3min 58.71s, just a click of the fingers off her own world record.
Boyle, a former world championship bronze medallist in the 400m freestyle, has a personal best of 4min 03.63s, but was well off that today.
The 28-year-old, who has not had the easiest of years with various health problems, swims in the 800m freestyle later in the meet.
Waikato freestyler Matthew Stanley went close to making the semi-finals in the 200m freestyle.
Stanley recorded 1min 47.37s to finish in 20th, with the top 16 going through. The fastest qualifier was China’s Yang Sun in 1min 45.75s and Stanley would have needed 1min 47.15s to go through.
In the women’s all-round artistic gymnastics, 17-year-old Courtney McGregor seemed to handle the biggest moment of her fledgling career well, finishing 41st of 68 starters.
Over at the tennis centre, New Zealand’s doubles pairing of Michael Venus and Marcus Daniell went within a whisker of pulling off an upset win. Facing the well-performed seventh seeds, David Nestor and Vasek Pospisil of Canada, the New Zealanders won the first set 6-4 and lost the next two 6-3, 7-6. They led 5-4 and 6-5 in the third set and the tiebreaker was thrilling before the Canadians got there 8-6.Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games Natalie Rooney Courtney McGregor Linda Villumsen Mike Dawson Mark Todd Tim Price Clarke Johnstone Corey Main Lauren Boyle Matthew Stanley Michael Venus Marcus Daniell Shooting