Olympics: NZ bosses target 10 or more medals

By Michael Brown

Defending Olympic shot put champion Valerie Adams is coming under pressure from rival Nadzeya Ostapchuk. Photo / Getty Images.
Defending Olympic shot put champion Valerie Adams is coming under pressure from rival Nadzeya Ostapchuk. Photo / Getty Images.

New Zealand Olympic bosses have targeted 10 or more medals in London. Michael Brown of APNZ looks at the most likely candidates.

1. Hamish Bond and Eric Murray (rowing)

Bond and Murray don't know what it feels like to lose as a combination. They have been undefeated since jumping in the men's pair together in 2009 and their chances of Olympic gold improved after British rivals Andrew Triggs-Hodge and Peter Reed conceded defeat and moved into a four. Bond and Murray, rightly, aren't taking anything for granted but this country is.

2. Valerie Adams (shot put)

The defending Olympic shot put champion is coming under pressure from rival Nadzeya Ostapchuk - the Belarussian has thrown 30cm further this year - but Adams will still go to London as favourite. She is a big-time thrower and Ostapchuk has often struggled away from her comfort zone (she finished third at the last Olympics).

As long as Adams is healthy, she will win a medal of some description but there's only one colour she's after.

3. Lisa Carrington (canoeing)

Bolters are a rare beast in modern sport but Carrington was just that 12 months ago when she won the K1 200m at the world championships. It wasn't a surprise to Carrington, whose potential was known, but it was her first world championships in the event. The 23-year-old is one of the favourites in the K1 200 but the landscape has changed a little with the return of three-time Olympic champion Natasa Douchev-Janics of Hungary, who was on maternity leave last year. The last time they raced, Douchev-Janics won by 0.096 seconds.

4. Linda Villumsen (cycling)

Villumsen might be a little-known cyclist in this country but she is hoping to become more of a household name during the Games. The 27-year-old finished fifth in the road race at the last Olympics racing for Denmark and has since claimed medals at three world championships in the time trial. Villumsen qualified for New Zealand in 2009 and should be contesting for a podium finish in the women's time trial in London.

5. Mahe Drysdale (rowing)

There's not a lot Mahe Drysdale hasn't won but there's a gaping hole in his CV he's hoping to rectify in London. Drysdale is a five-time world champion and has dominated the single sculls over the past few years but he famously became ill at just the wrong time in Beijing and finished third. Drysdale had another scare recently when knocked off his bike and also faces stiff opposition from the likes of Ondrej Synek, Alan Campbell and Olaf Tufte.

6. Andrea Hewitt (triathlon)

There are few triathletes as consistent as Andrea Hewitt and it's why she goes into the Olympics as the world's No 1 ranked female. She was second at last year's world championships and third in 2009 and won the world championship grand final race in Beijing in 2011 and placed second in the overall rankings. A number of athletes will be a threat with Brit Helen Jenkins, who virtually lives on the Hyde Park course, the biggest one.

6. Jo Aleh and Olivia (Polly) Powrie (sailing)

Team Jolly head to the Olympics high on confidence after finishing third at last year's world championships in Perth and first at the International 470 Spring Cup and Sail for Gold regatta in Weymouth. The conditions at Weymouth will suit the New Zealand sailors given they should be similar to what they encounter in this country.

7. Andrew Nicholson (eventing)

Two-time Olympic champion Mark Todd might be the rock star of the New Zealand eventing team but Andrew Nicholson looms as a more likely medallist. The world No 2 will be contesting his seventh Olympics (the same number as Todd) and will be aboard Nereo, the horse who helped him to third at the 2010 world championships and is rarely out of the top placings. Todd can't be discounted, but his top mount is out with injury. New Zealand will also be a chance in the team's event.

8. Any of the other rowers

New Zealand will send their biggest team to an Olympics - 26 rowers - and many of them are genuine medal contenders. Take you pick from Rebecca Scown and Juliette Haigh (women's pair), Storm Uru and Peter Taylor (men's lightweight double sculls), Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan (men's double sculls) and even the impressive new combination Louise Ayling and Julia Edward (women's lightweight double sculls).

9. Men's and women's team pursuit (cycling)

Great Britain and Australia have dominated the men's and women's team pursuit making it look like a fight for bronze for the rest of the field. That's where New Zealand come in and the men's side won bronze at this year's world championships without their strongest rider Jesse Sergent, who will join the team in London, and the women finished a disappointing fourth in their event.

10. Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (sailing)

Burling and Tuke might be young - 21 and 23 respectively - but they are already experienced. Burling was part of the youngest crew to ever take part in an Olympic regatta in 2008 and between them Burling and Tuke won have won four world titles in three different classes. The pair head to the Olympics on the back of consecutive runner-up finishes at the last two 49er skiff world championships and are one of a handful of New Zealand crews chasing medals at Weymouth. JP Tobin (men's RS:X boardsailing) and Andrew Murdoch (Laser) are the best of the rest.

- APNZ

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