Commonwealth Games: Effort good as gold for NZ team

By Cameron McMillan

Standouts — and some disappointment — as Kiwis look ahead to Gold Coast event.

New Zealand cyclist Sam Webster won two gold medals and one silver in the velodrome. Photo / Greg Bowker
New Zealand cyclist Sam Webster won two gold medals and one silver in the velodrome. Photo / Greg Bowker

New Zealand notched a creditable 45 medals, including 14 golds, in the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Silver medals to Jack Bauer and the Silver Ferns overnight meant the NZ team equalled their efforts in Manchester 12 years ago, the best haul on foreign soil, when they also brought home 45 medals.

There were many standout moments for New Zealand, at least 14 if you go off the gold section of the medal table, but some of the silver and bronze medal results were impressive too.

The effort of the Robertson brothers in the 5000m race was special. Coming up against a cabal of Kenyans, they controlled much of the race until Jake was accidentally tripped by compatriot Nick Willis. Zane barely blinked, staying with the decisive surge on the final lap before hanging on for bronze.

Final medal table

The two silvers in judo for Moira de Villiers and Adrian Leat helped give their sport profile, as did the wrestling bronze medals for Tayla Ford and Sam Belkin, while Julia Ratcliffe (silver hammer throw) and Tom Walsh (silver shot put) are young athletes likely to improve in four years.

The 14 gold medal winners spanned 26 years in age, from Jo Edwards (44) to David Nyika (18), and nine sports. There was Anton Cooper also winning gold as a teenager in his first Commonwealth Games while Sally Johnson, aged 43, competing in her fourth Games stepped on the top of the podium after coming so close over the last 16 years.

There was Richie Patterson getting redemption after dropping two lifts for the gold medal and Linda Villumsen winning a much deserved time trial after a heart-breaking fourth at the Olympics two years ago.

Then there was Valerie Adams who became a Commonwealth Games champion for the third straight time - picking up her 54th straight shot put competition win in the process.

There were disappointments. The All Blacks sevens left with a silver but second is never considered good enough for any rugby team in this country, while triathlon and swimming face funding cuts at the end of the year after disappointing showings.

At least swimming picked up three late golds, with Lauren Boyle's superb win in the 400m final to go with Sophie Pascoe's double gold haul in two para events. Overall, though, the swimmers were below par.

The big winners were cycling. After last night's road races, 14 of New Zealand's 43 medals came in the form of two wheels. Forty-three medals was above expectations.

Sam Webster was the headline act in an outstanding track cycling group while Tom Scully (points race) and Shane Archbold (scratch race) deserve accolades for their successes in the bunch endurance events while youngsters Anton Cooper and Sam Gaze provided one of the moments of the Games with their 1-2 in the cross country mountain biking. Linda Villumsen also produced one of the most deserved golds after finishing outside the medals on so many occasions.

Bauer's silver in the men's road race capped off an outstanding campaign for the cyclists and was also a nice reward for a young rider who came so close to claiming a Tour de France stage win last month.

But with the Commonwealth Games coming closer to home in 2018, expectations will be higher on the Gold Coast.

- NZ Herald

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