New Zealand set an Olympic record today as the medals flooded in.
With gold to 49er sailors Blair Tuke and Peter Burling, silver to 470 sailors Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie and to 49er women Molly Meech and Alex Maloney, and bronzes to K1 500 paddler Lisa Carrington and shot putter Tom Walsh, it was one of the great days for New Zealand at the Olympics.
With more events to come, that lifts New Zealand’s medal tally in Rio to 15 – 4 gold, 8 silver and 3 bronze. New Zealand is placed inside the top 15 on the international medal table.
The total of 15 medals also exceeds the 13 won in Seoul in 1988 and in London in 2012.
The New Zealand sailors have had a great regatta.
Tuke and Burling were outstanding and had already won the gold medal before today’s medal race, but they won that too, just for good measure.
Powrie and Aleh, defending champions after their 2012 London triumph, didn’t have the best of luck in Rio, but still came away with a silver medal after a solid final race today. Meech and Maloney were involved in a thrilling medal race in which the lead swung back and forwards, with all the medals up for grabs. Eventually Brazil won the race and the gold, and the New Zealanders took the silver, but it was close.
The other crew in action today was the 470 men, Paul Snow-Hansen and Daniel Willcox, who finished sixth in their medal race, and were 10th overall.
Carrington padded a gritty race. She is virtually invincible over the 200m sprint, but over 500 metres it is a different story, with more endurance coming into it. She was last at the halfway point, but really wound up for the sprint home and did well to get into a medal position. By the end she was challenging strongly for second. She leaves Rio with a gold and a bronze, the first New Zealand woman to win two medals at one Olympic Games, and only the third (after Barbara Kendall and Val Adams) to win three Olympic medals in total.
There were other fine performances today, notably by shot putter Tom Walsh.
He and Jacko Gill qualified handsomely for the final. Walsh, who as the world indoor champion, was regarded as one of the big guns of the event, and was the second qualifier, needing just one throw. Gill, only 21, came into the event having had to nurse a foot injury, but qualified well in fourth place.
In the final, Walsh couldn’t match the two leading Americans, but was comfortably third with a put of 21.36m. Gill’s best was 20.50m and he did not qualify for the final rounds and finished 9th overall.
Also at the track, Nick Willis made his third straight Olympic 1500m final. Willis, 33, the 2008 1500m silver medallist, ran a conservative race. However, he had plenty of pep left when he needed it over the last 50 metres, finishing third in his heat with five to qualify. His time was 3 min 39.96s.
BMX rider Trent Jones faced a particularly stiff quarter-final bracket that also included the last two world champions. But Jones beat them both and was second in his bracket. He now progresses to the semi-final and showed enough today to indicate that might not be the end of it for him.
New Zealand’s two triathletes, Ryan Sissons and Tony Dodds, had to contend with a particularly steamy day, the infamous Rio hills and the astounding ability of Britain’s Brownlee brothers in the men’s triathlon.
As it turned out the Brownlees were first and second. Sissons was 17th, three minutes behind, and Dodds 21st, another 23 seconds back. The New Zealanders cycled and ran much of the course side by side and battled hard. However, try as they might, they simply could not hold the Brownlees and others in the leading pack up the sharp Rio hills on the cycle leg.
Finally, golfer Lydia Ko had a rather frustrating day. She shot a 70 to go with her opening round 69 and is 3-under par.
That is respectable enough, but the world No 1 wanted more and if she’d been able to sink some makeable putts might have been pushing the leaders, Inbee Park of South Korea and American Stacy Lewis, a lot closer. As it is, she is seven strokes behind Park and will need to go really low tomorrow to get in the medal hunt.Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games