Herald sports writers Dylan Cleaver and David Leggat continue to count down New Zealand's great Olympic moments. Today, at number 5, we remember Hamish Carter and Bevan Docherty's 1-2 blitz of the men's triathlon in Athens.

New Zealanders have won 37 Olympic gold medals and 17 silvers.

But what about gold and silver in one event? That's happened just twice, by eventers Blyth Tait and Sally Clark in Atlanta in 1996 and on a belting hot day in Athens eight years ago, when Hamish Carter outlasted Bevan Docherty on the final, gut-busting stretch to the line in the men's triathlon.

Carter was 33, and this would be his last shot. At Sydney four years earlier, he was over-anxious and finished 26th, shattered and disillusioned.


He had been a premier triathlete for years, with a host of World Cup victories, world No 1 ranking and a clutch of top results to his name. But not the big one, a world or Olympic title.

So consider the emotions coursing through his lean frame as he crossed the line in 1h 51min 7.73s after a 1500m swim in the Aegean Sea, a hilly 40km cycle ride and 10km run in 29C heat.

"I dreamed of doing the same thing as John Walker, but I never thought I would, or could," Carter said at the time.

What made this so special was that early in the run the two New Zealanders, along with Swiss Sven Riederer, got clear. New Zealand had two medals. But which hue?

Not until the final lap did the Kiwis burn off the fading Swiss. At which point New Zealand could sit back in the so-rare situation of knowing, with certainty, the country would win gold and silver. But who would get what?

Docherty, the younger man and who'd arrived in Athens as world champion, clung on until Carter got clear in the last 500m.

Carter spoke movingly of two conversations he'd had with women just before the race; wife Marisa and cycling gold medallist Sarah Ulmer.

"They said just do it - just go have fun. Do it because you love it.

"I just had a great time. That was simply the difference from Sydney," Carter said.

Docherty, a fierce competitor, was magnanimous: "I'd far sooner have a fellow countryman winning than anybody else," he said.

A bronze medal would follow for Docherty in Beijing four years ago. He's aiming for the set in London.

A final tribute? Tough Aussie Greg Bennett, who finished fourth that day, put it this way: "If you are going to be beaten, you want to be beaten by tough bastards."