Kiri is a digital journalist for bayofplentytimes.co.nz.

Meech, Burling and Carrington Rio medal haul sparks talk of ticker tape parade for Tauranga

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Tauranga sailor Sam Meech after winning bronze in the Laser Class during at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Photo/Marty Melville, Photosport
Tauranga sailor Sam Meech after winning bronze in the Laser Class during at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Photo/Marty Melville, Photosport

Tauranga city is considering a ticker tape parade to welcome home the Bay's Olympic athletes after three medals were secured yesterday.

Tauranga City Council Mayor Stuart Crosby said there had already been initial conversations "in regard to some form of celebration for all our athletes".

"We did it last time. The issue is their availability and other commitments in New Zealand.
"Hopefully we can show our admiration and appreciation for all our people who went [to the Rio Olympics], whether they won a medal or not."

Peter Burling (right) celebrates with team mate Blair Tuke (left) and their coach after winning the 49er men gold medal the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo/AP
Peter Burling (right) celebrates with team mate Blair Tuke (left) and their coach after winning the 49er men gold medal the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo/AP

Sailor Sam Meech won bronze after competing the Laser class race yesterday, achieving New Zealand's first win in the class. It was Meech's first time competing in the Olympics and he stood proudly, draped in the New Zealand flag after his podium finish.

Meanwhile, Tauranga's Peter Burling and team-mate Blair Tuke are all set to achieve their Olympic dream of winning gold - and the pair haven't even started their medal race.

After achieving enough points in yesterday's 49er race for gold, Burling and Tuke now have a rest day before Friday's medal race. All the two have to do is show up on the course to claim gold.

The sailors' efforts came after Lisa Carrington's race earlier yesterday which saw her paddle to claim a gold medal. Carrington was set to be back on the water this morning, competing in the women's kayak single 500m event.

Yesterday's achievements come after Luuka Jones won silver in the K1 slalom, and Mahe Drysdale won gold in the single sculls.

Bay Black Sticks players Gemma Flynn, Samantha Charlton and Rose Keddell beat rivals Australia to compete against Great Britain in the hockey semifinals today.

Tauranga Yacht and Boat Club Commodore Nick Wrinch said the athletes should be recognised with celebration when they returned home. "My hope is to do a big ticker tape parade, walking them through town," he said.

"But it shouldn't be just us and them," he said, referring to the sailors. "We've got Luuka and Lisa Carrington. It's a pretty strong contribution from our region. They've done us so proud."

New Zealand's Lisa Carrington celebrates after winning the gold medal in the women's kayak single 200m during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo/AP
New Zealand's Lisa Carrington celebrates after winning the gold medal in the women's kayak single 200m during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo/AP

Mr Wrinch said Meech had done especially well in yesterday's race.

"That's such a tough class."

Mr Wrinch said the sailing conditions were not favourable either so the medal was testament to Meech's efforts and skill.

Mr Wrinch said Meech's parents must be ecstatic with his win but nervous and excited for sister Molly, who will race with a chance at gold in the women's 49er FX (skiff) tomorrow.

"It's hard to imagine. Those kids doing so well over there," he said. "It's exciting times for the club."

Tauranga Boys' College principal Robert Mangan said it was time to celebrate the achievements of former students.

"I was aiming to have a shot at getting a medal ... and to finish it off was absolutely amazing,"
Sam Meech

"We will be showing the boys that anything is possible. Putting the role models to them and saying they sat in the same assembly hall and went on to make success on the international stage."

After claiming his bronze medal, Meech confessed he was "pretty nervous during the race. I was aiming to have a shot at getting a medal at the end of the week and so I'm pretty stoked to finish the fleet racing and I was in that position, and to finish it off was absolutely amazing," he said.

"I'm really happy with how I sailed. There was only one race when things didn't go that well. So I'm really proud."

Burling said he and Tuke were "absolutely stoked" with having achieved so many points, their gold medal was guaranteed

"It's pretty special."


Bay's Rio medals


Lisa Carrington, canoe sprint - Gold
Mahe Drysdale, single sculls - Gold
Peter Burling with Blair Tuke, sailing - Gold, pending their arrival at tomorrow's medal race
Luuka Jones, slalom - Silver
Sam Meech, sailing - Bronze

- Bay of Plenty Times

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