2000’s: WE ARE PROUD TO WEAR TE MAHUTONGA IN THE OLYMPIC GAMES OPENING CEREMONY, THE WORLD MEETS DAME VALERIE ADAMS
New Zealand has always had a proud record in single sculls rowing, including producing three early world professional champions and Olympic medallists in Darcy Hadfield (OLY#8) (1920) and Eric Verdonk (OLY#578) (1988).
Rob Waddell (OLY#745) was the first New Zealander single sculler to win Olympic gold, at Sydney in 2000, ushering in a new and notably successful era for his country in this discipline.
Barbara Kendall (OLY#631) became the first New Zealand woman to win medals in three successive Olympic Games when she won the boardsailing bronze medal at Sydney in 2000, following her gold in Barcelona in 1992 and silver in Atlanta in 1996.
Angela Paul (OLY#755) was unusual in New Zealand sport – a luge expert, at a time when there was no luge course in the country. She represented New Zealand at two winter Olympic Games (1998, 2002) and in 2002 in Salt Lake City became the first woman to be named New Zealand team captain at the winter Olympic Games.
The New Zealand Olympic Committee has taken increasing steps in recent years to honour our country’s unique bi-cultural status and grow a culture of manaaki within the organisation. One notable milestone is the kakahu (cloak) named Te Mahutonga, which has been worn proudly by every New Zealand Olympic team captain since Beatrice Faumuina in 2004. The kakahu is an exquisite work of art that took Te Aue Davis and Ranui Ngarimu several months to hand weave. It was presented to New Zealand’s oldest living flag-bearer, Harold Nelson, by the Maori Queen, Te Arikinui Dane Te Atairangikaahu at a ceremony in June 2004.
Fencing has been an Olympic sport since 1896. Four men have represented New Zealand at the Olympic Games, Brian Pickworth (OLY#145) (1960), David Cocker (OLY#418) (1984), Martin Brill (OLY#411) (1984 and 1988) and Gavin McLean (OLY#644) (1992). At Athens in 2004 Jessica Beer (OLY#877) became the first New Zealand woman to compete in Olympic fencing when she contested the epee event.
Caroline (OLY#898) and Georgina (OLY#899) Evers-Swindell set all sorts of records when they won the double sculls event at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. Not only were they absolutely dominant on the water, but they became that rarity in sport – identical twins who were Olympic gold medallists. For good measure they repeated their gold medal effort at Beijing four years later, though in a much tighter finish.
Triathlon only became an Olympic sport in 2000. It didn’t take long for New Zealand to make its mark – in the 2004 men’s triathlon New Zealanders Hamish Carter (OLY#771) and Bevan Docherty (OLY#895) competed brilliantly to secure gold and silver on a never-to-be-forgotten day in Athens.
Sarah Ulmer (OLY#743) capped a glittering cycling career by winning the 3000m individual pursuit gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, smashing the world record twice along the way.
The 2004 Olympic men’s marathon finished under lights in the Panathinaiko Stadium, which had been the focal point of the first modern Olympic Games, way back in 1896. The unusual, elongated track, the steep stone seating, the lights and the sheer history of the venue made the 2004 marathon finish unforgettable. New Zealander Jonathan Wyatt (OLY#750) finished a creditable 21st and afterwards spoke of how emotional he’d felt running into the stadium with Zorba The Greek belting out.
Taekwondo was admitted to the Olympic Games in 2000. New Zealand’s first representative was Verina Wihongi (OLY#972), who competed in the women’s 67kg class at Athens in 2004, though she was unable to win either of her bouts.
New Zealand’s Barbara Kendall (OLY#631) becomes the first New Zealand woman to become an IOC Member in 2005 – one of the key decision-makers within the Olympic Movement.
New Zealand celebrated the surprise qualification of a team for the Olympic curling event at Turin in 2006. The New Zealand team of Sean Becker (OLY#978) and three former Canadians, Hans Frauenlob (OLY#986), Daniel Mustapic (OLY#988) and Lorne DePape (OLY#984), with Warren Dobson (OLY#985) as reserve, acquitted themselves considering there are only a few dozen curlers in the country.
Mahe Drysdale (OLY#896) (rowing) shows incredible resilience has he powers through to a bronze medal only to collapse on the finish line as it is revealed he had been battling illness.
Nick Willis (OLY#973) continues New Zealand’s middle-distance prowess winning silver in the 1500m in the famous Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing 2008. He had initially been awarded bronze medal, but this was upgraded following a positive doping test by another competitor.