The Silver Ferns have been awarded the prestigious Lonsdale Cup for 2019 at the Olympic Gala in Auckland this evening.
The award was presented at the New Zealand Olympic Gala which brought together some of New Zealand's most well-known Olympic and Commonwealth Games athletes to celebrate their achievements in 2019 and look towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (see more below).
Renowned choreographer Parris Goebel's dance crew Royal Family hit the stage, joined by weightlifter David Liti, canoe sprint's Kayla Imrie and other athletes targeting Tokyo to reveal the New Zealand Team village and podium wear for next year's Olympic Games. The silver fern features on traditional black and New Zealand written in katakana (Japanese script) honours the host nation.
PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic flagbearer Beau-James Wells also formally handed the Team's feather cloak, Te Mahutonga, to the next New Zealand Team, this evening represented by Tokyo 1964 bronze medallist Marise Chamberlain (800m).
Chamberlain was joined by 1964 teammates in a Tokyo retrospective and Sir Mark Todd's contribution to the New Zealand Team was honoured.
Silver Ferns win Lonsdale Cup
2019 saw the Silver Ferns crowned World Champions after beating Australia 52-51 in a thrilling final at the Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England.
NZOC CEO Kereyn Smith extended her congratulations to the 2019 Lonsdale winners.
“Well done to the Silver Ferns who are deserved winners of the Lonsdale Cup,” said Smith.
“The Netball World Cup win united the nation and inspired athletes around the country.
"The team is generous and community focused, and are fantastic role models for girls and young women. I congratulate them and thank them for their contribution."
Minister for Sport and Recreation Grant Robertson presented the historic cup to Silver Fern Bailey Mes and Silver Ferns Assistant Coach Deb Fuller, who were in Auckland for the black tie dinner.
Silver Ferns Coach Noeline Taurua earlier said, "This is such a privilege and honour and we are very humbled.
“I would also like to acknowledge the wider netball community who contributed to the Ferns success at the Netball World Cup and thank the New Zealand Olympic Committee for this special award”.
Silver Ferns World Champion Captain Laura Langman added, “It’s been a massive year of Netball and it’s been 16 years since we last won a Netball World Cup, so to receive such a prestigious award as the Lonsdale Cup is a special moment for New Zealand Netball.”
The Lonsdale Cup is the New Zealand Olympic Committee’s most prestigious award and is presented annually to the athlete or team that has made the most outstanding contribution to an Olympic or Commonwealth Sport.
The Lonsdale Cup was first awarded in 1961, with Sir Murray Halberg the inaugural recipient. Since then it has been won by a host of inspirational New Zealanders who have represented our country with pride and passion. Past winners include Dame Valerie Adams, Lisa Carrington, Sir John Walker, Barbara Kendall, Sir Peter Snell and many more.
Athletes unveil Tokyo 2020 New Zealand Team Wear
The New Zealand Olympic Gala featured a stand-out performance from Parris Goebel’s Royal Family dance crew to launch the New Zealand Team village and podium-wear for Tokyo 2020.
Athletes David Liti (weightlifting) Kayla Imrie (canoe sprint), Hayden Wilde (triathlon), Zoe Hobbs (athletics), Troy Garton (boxing), Nicole van der Kaay (triathlon) , Ella Williams (surfing) and Arun Pancia (hockey) joined the dance crew on stage giving the audience a first look at what the New Zealand Team will look like at the Olympic Games next year, as well as a selection of the New Zealand Team replica and supporter's gear on-sale to the public in 2020.
The silver fern remains at the heart of the New Zealand Team uniform for Tokyo 2020. With the traditional black, the range also includes flashes of Pacific blue while New Zealand is written in katakana (Japanese script) on a number of items as a sign of respect to the host nation.
With technical fabric designed for the heat and lighter colour options for those outside, the Olympic village and podium-wear will ensure the New Zealand Team is ready to compete on the world stage.
The Opening Ceremony uniform will be launched next year at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
New Zealand Olympic Committee CEO Kereyn Smith said "It's a real milestone to launch the team kit and we know that athletes will wear the silver fern with real pride at next year's Tokyo Olympic Games."
Weightlifter David Liti added, "I'm a big fan of the team kit, it looks cool and it's really comfortable."
"I can't wait to walk around the Olympic Village with the fern on my chest!"
Olympic Summer Games
Athletes Past and Present Honoured
The New Zealand Olympic Gala also looked towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, where more than 200 New Zealand athletes are expected to compete in just 231 days-time.
The Games will see the best athletes from around the globe go head to head, as the equivalent of 30 world championship events take place in one of the world's most vibrant cities over an intense 17 days of competition from July 24, 2020.
Athletes at the Gala Dinner included those targeting Tokyo including Emma Twigg, Luuka Jones, Samantha Charlton, Lewis Clareburt, Shea McAleese, Ella Williams along with Tokyo 1964 Olympians Marise Chamberlain (bronze medal, 800m), Dave Gerrard (swimming) and Tony Popplewell (rowing).
Sir Mark Todd was honoured with a gift of pounamu to acknowledge his contribution to the New Zealand Team between 1984 and his retirement earlier this year.
With a spot qualified for the Olympic Games, Canoe Slalom athlete Luuka Jones (silver medal, Rio 2016) has already spent weeks training on the slalom course in Tokyo.
“There’s a real buzz already in Tokyo, you can feel the energy in the city,” she said.
“There’s a lot of work for us athletes to do between now and Games time but it’s going to be an amazing experience.”
Whangamata surfer Ella Williams has provisionally qualified for Tokyo 2020, which will be the first Olympic Games where surfing is contested.
“Having surfing in the Olympic Games is amazing, it gives young surfers more to aim for and will give our sport exposure to a whole new audience.
“I’m training loads and I can’t wait to get to Tokyo and compete, I wish the Games were tomorrow!”