New Zealand won two silver medals today, which on most days would be a very good day at the Olympics.
But the day ended in disappointment, for New Zealand and particularly for our champion shot putter Val Adams. After fighting back from shoulder surgery, Adams has worked herself into top form over the past few months.
She entered the shot put in Rio as favourite and certainly looked good in dominating the morning qualifying.
In the final, Adams looked to have secured the gold medal with her second-round throw of 20.42m. It was her season’s best by 23cm and no competitor even got close as the shot put wound to a close.
Then in the last round, with the second-last throw of the event, Michelle Carter, the American who has pushed Adams hardest this season, uncorked a 20.63m effort. It was a stunning moment.
Adams had to quickly compose herself and reassess as she walked to the circle for her last throw. It was a good one, too - 20.39m - but not enough for gold.
So Adams, who has delivered so consistently at Olympics and world championships for a decade, found herself in the unusual position of being a silver medallist at a major meet.
She looked a little bewildered afterwards, and so were the eager New Zealand fans who were watching.
Two other athletes were in action today. Quentin Rew was disqualified midway through the 20km walk and Nikki Hamblin couldn’t get past the heats of the 1500m.
The other silver medal today came at the rowing, where Genevieve Behrent and Rebecca Scown excelled themselves in the pair. The British crew opened a huge lead and for a time the New Zealanders languished in last place. But they picked up their pace, flying past opponents as Peter Snell used to down the home straight. In the end the British got home first by a second, but Behrens and Scown gave them a real fright and thoroughly deserved their silver.
The world champion New Zealand lightweight double sculls team of Julia Edward and Sophie MacKenzie fought hard, but were squeezed out of the medals, finishing fourth.
Both New Zealand’s single scullers looked confident. Mahe Drysdale won his semi-final and Emma Twigg was a comfortable second in hers.
Two New Zealand shooters were in action, but neither managed to progress past qualifying. Ryan Taylor was 16th in the 50m rifle prone and Chloe Tipple 13th in the women’s skeet.
Danny Lee had a great day at the golf. While Ryan Fox was unable to repeat his first-day form and shot 72, Lee was brilliant. He carded the low round of the day, 65, and rocketed up to a tie for sixth with two rounds remaining.
The sailing was disrupted by light winds, but that didn’t stop 49er men Blair Tuke and Peter Burling winning both their races on the opening day of their competition. They were favourites beforehand and have done nothing to dispel that notion.
The other New Zealand crews were not quite as successful. Polly Powrie and Jo Aleh, who led the women’s 470, had a disappointing 12th and dropped back to sixth overall. The men’s 470 had a poor day with 23rd and 13th placings. Sam Meech was 13th and sixth in the laser and is sixth overall going into the final day of his competition. The 49er women, Alex Maloney and Molly Meech opened their competition with sixth and fifth placings, which was eminently satisfactory.
At the pool Matt Hutchins found himself outgunned in the 1500m and though he swam right up to his best was well down the list of non-qualifiers. Elizabeth Cui in the 3m springboard diving competition, similarly found the competition too hot and finished 24th, with only 18 going through to the final.
At the velodrome, the men’s team pursuit had hopes of a medal, but eventually had to settle for fourth after being outgunned by Britain and then, in the bronze medal ride, Denmark.
The women’s sprint team failed to qualify and in the men’s individual sprint Sam Webster eliminated countryman Eddie Dawkins to move into the quarter-finals.
Men’s 85kg weightlifter Richie Patterson was a little below his best today, with misses in both the snatch and clean and jerk preventing him moving further up the rankings.
The New Zealand hockey teams had an excellent day. The women drew with the mighty Netherlands side to secure a quarter-finals berth and the men beat Belgium 3-1 to also move into the quarters. Both sides look to be running into top form at the right time.