Games day eight wrap: Flying Kiwis, flying ponytails

It was all flying Kiwis, flying ponytails and flying hockey masks in New Delhi today, as girl power gathered more Commonwealth Games bling for New Zealand.

At the track, Nikki Hamblin mounted an 800m finish akin to that of galloper Kiwi in the 1983 Melbourne Cup to grab her second silver, while a late swoop took hurdler Andrea Miller to bronze.

And another tender gender medal awaits in hockey, where the Black Sticks sealed a final place when they held off South Africa in a nailbiting last 15 minutes to win 1-0.

Hamblin went past the field as if they were wading in treacle with only Olympic 1500m champion Nancy Langat able to stave off her charge - and even Langat had just .04sec to spare.

"I waited, I tried to stay cool, and not run wide," said Hamblin, buoyed by the confidence her 1500m silver brought.

A torrid pace set by Indian Tintu Luka in front of a screaming crowd caused carnage in the last 20m, leaving Hamblin and Canadian Diane Cummins to mop up the minor medals.

An estatic Miller discovered the pain of celebrity when she embraced gal pal Sally Pearson after the Australian won gold in the hurdles.

As the pair hugged and screamed "we did it, we did it!", photographers swooped, one whacking Miller in the head with a long lens.

"He did it very lightly," said Miller, still beaming well after the medal ceremony.

Her medal was an Anzac collaboration, with Olympic hurdle silver medallist Pearson offering advice and friendship, even as they were warming up for the final.

"She's been amazing, Sally was a shoo-in to win, so she helped me. She warmed up with me and made sure I was okay."

Another Australian helped the Black Sticks into the Games final, though coach Mark Hager probably suffered heart palpitations in the process.

With a final looming and a one goal lead, the young and largely inexperienced side - dubbed the flying ponytails by some wags - appeared to go into a bad hair day.

"It was their first time under that sort of pressure, it will do them a lot of good,'' Hager said.

"We're a young team, to make a final is a big step forward."

After a scoring midway through the second half, the Black Caps had to face waves of attacks, and a penalty corner with seconds left.

Masks donned by the defenders flew in celebration moments later, when the hooter signaled New Zealand would battle Australia for gold on Wednesday.

After today's feats, and with shotputter Val Adams and track cyclist Alison Shanks having won the two gold medals, there is a feminine tinge to the Delhi effort.

The boys who could put that right kicked off the sevens with three thumping wins, but their path to the gold medal became rocky when Kenya toppled Samoa 12-10.

World series champions Samoa, who have had the wood on New Zealand all year, will now face them in the semifinals, if both get that far.

Squash looked like it might deliver medals, as two combinations charged into the doubles semifinals but the badminton players were wiped out and table tennis players dropped like flies, with only one doubles combination left.

Singles bowler Ali Forsyth was unbeaten in five rounds, while fullbore shooters Mike Colling and John Snowden remained in medal contention.

In a final nod to girl power - there was joy for the team's youngest member, when Gabe Armstrong-Scott, 14, cracked 300 points for the first time, finishing 10th in the 10m platform diving final.


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