New Zealand Team Stats:
- 222 athletes (116 men, 106 women)
- Outstanding spirit of manaaki across the New Zealand team
- 700+ performances
- 20 medals – seven gold, six silver, seven bronze
- 61 New Zealand Team athletes won a medal (27%)
- 11 medal winning sports
- Continuous performance improvement over consecutive Games since 2000
- 12th on the Olympic Medal Table
- 93% of athletes achieved a top 16 finish
- 60% of athletes achieved a top 8 finish
- Surpassed our 50th Olympic Gold Medal with the women’s Rugby Sevens win
- Greatest number of Olympic medals won by a New Zealand athlete (Lisa Carrington, 3 gold in Tokyo – total Olympic medals now 5 gold, 1 bronze)
- New Olympic sports Karate and Surfing contested by New Zealand
- First time New Zealand was represented in the Opening Ceremony by two flagbearers - Te Pou Hapai Tane David Nyika and Te Pou Hapai Wahine Sarah Hirini
- 25,000 visitors to NZHQ in Auckland – our first New Zealand-based Olympic fanzone
The New Zealand Team has wrapped its Tokyo Olympic Games campaign, bringing home more medals than ever before.
The team departs Tokyo with 20 medals – 7 gold, 6 silver and 7 bronze. The total surpassing the previous record medal tally of 18, set by the team that competed in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. The most gold medals New Zealand has ever won at an Olympics is eight, in Los Angeles in 1984. This team to Tokyo team is next with 7, followed by the team in London in 2012 which won 6.
The medals were won across 11 sports, including gymnastics (trampolining) for the first time. Eleven of the 20 medals were won by women.
By winning five medals in Tokyo, three of them gold, rowing confirmed itself as New Zealand’s most successful Olympic sport in terms of medals, with 29, followed by athletics (26), sailing (23) and canoeing (15).
The New Zealand team ranked 12th on the medal table in Tokyo (at time of print, just below France and Canada), which compares well with recent Olympic Games – New Zealand was 19th in Rio, 15th in London in 2012, 27th in Beijing in 2008, 24th in Athens in 2004 and 46th in Sydney in 2000.
Rob Waddell, the team Chef de Mission, paid credit to all the team’s medallists, but also to other athletes who had arrived in Tokyo, often after unusually challenging journeys to qualify, and then performed at their best.
“While the medals are great, I’m proud of the entire team. I’d also like to acknowledge those who’ve done personal bests,” he said.
“You cannot ask more of an athlete than to turn up on the world’s biggest sports stage and perform up to and often beyond what they have achieved previously. We’ve seen that in so many sports where these things are measurable – swimming, diving, athletics, cycling, rowing, canoeing, weightlifting.”
New Zealand fielded its largest Olympic team ever in Tokyo – 222 athletes. The next biggest teams have been Rio (199), London (184), Beijing (182) and Athens (182). Our athletes competed in more than 700 sessions.
Our oldest medal winner was Dame Valerie Adams at 36; our youngest was women’s sevens gold medallist Risaleeana Pouri-Lane, who turned 21 in May.
Waddell praised the Games organisers and the people of Japan.
“It is difficult to imagine a more challenging circumstance in which to host an Olympic Games. Tokyo was delayed a year and then took place under the strictest rules imaginable to deal with the Covid situation.
“It is a credit to the organisers that so many athletes leave Tokyo with nothing but fond thoughts. I felt so sorry for the Japanese people that the Games took place in empty stadiums when the facilities were so outstanding, but it is worth noting that these will be remembered as a successful and enjoyable Olympics, which in view of the circumstances, is a triumph.”
Waddell said he was particularly proud of the New Zealand team.
“The athletes operated in a welcoming and supportive environment. There was an extremely positive vibe throughout the entire Olympic Games and the New Zealand Team village was an inspiring and supportive place to be. New Zealanders are always terrific at supporting each other, and strong and connected team environment was more evident than ever before.”
“What’s more our Team values and high-performance culture of Manaaki shone throughout these Olympic games, both on and off the field of play.
“A real highlight was the team’s engagement with the New Zealand Team Pou Tangata haka which welcomed new athletes and celebrated outstanding success.”
There were huge numbers of outstanding performances by New Zealanders, but Lisa Carrington, with three gold medals (and a fourth placing in the K4 500), became New Zealand’s most medalled Olympic athlete ever.
Dame Valerie Adams, competing in her fifth Olympic Games, added a bronze to her previous two golds and a silver. Hamish Bond led the men’s eight to gold, his third gold medal win at successive Olympic Games. Emma Twigg won gold after two fourth placings at previous Olympic Games. Blair Tuke and Peter Burling added a sailing silver to previous silver and golds.
Marcus Daniell and Michael Venus won a bronze medal in the tennis doubles, the first New Zealanders to win a tennis medal for 109 years. Lydia Ko became the first golfer to win back-to-back Olympic medals and women’s sevens team turned silver into gold.
Waddell noted that not everyone can attend such a major sports event as the Olympics and depart in triumph.
“Any Games brings its share of heartache and I would also like to acknowledge those athletes who left their hearts on the field of play, but weren't able to come home with the results they wanted. We are proud of our entire team and look forward to the next time our athletes pull on the silver fern."
New Zealand Olympic Committee President Mike Stanley acknowledged the resilience and determination of the athletes, and their support teams.
“This has been the most challenging Olympic Games. I acknowledge all the training, planning and operational delivery that ensured our athletes began and finished these Olympic Games healthy and delivered the greatest performances our nation has seen,” said Stanley.
“I also thank the people of Japan to whom we are eternally grateful for overcoming so many challenges to ensure our athletes, and 11,000 others could fulfil their Olympic dreams.
“We also extend our thanks to HPSNZ, our performance delivery partner, who have been integral to preparing athletes for the challenging Tokyo campaign. We acknowledge Sport NZ along with other government agencies who have supported us through the pandemic and have made sure our athletes could access vital vaccinations and beds in MIQ on their return.
“To our major sponsor ANZ and other New Zealand and worldwide partners, benefactors and community partners, thank you for the faith you had in the New Zealand Team and for helping our athletes compete on the world’s stage.
"Finally, we thank all those Kiwis who came into our NZHQ fan zone, watched on TV or followed our social media accounts. Their support was an incredible part of the New Zealand Team’s success and we know our athletes will have inspired the next generation of Kiwi kids who get out and engage with sport from grassroots to high performance.”
For Waddell, who now steps down from his role as Chef de Mission of the New Zealand Team, Tokyo 2020 was nothing but an extraordinary experience.
“It's been an absolute privilege to be part of this team. The athlete performances have been outstanding, but more than that, they are wonderful people and wonderful role models. They were hugely proud to represent New Zealand.
"Our athletes here in Tokyo inspired us all and have brought to life what it means to be a proud member of the New Zealand Team.