Olympics: The potential medal party poopers

By David Leggat, Dylan Cleaver

Nadzeya Ostapchuk, who's thrown some monsters lately on home turf, has surpassed Valerie Adams' best but the Belarusian has to repeat that in London. Photo / AP.
Nadzeya Ostapchuk, who's thrown some monsters lately on home turf, has surpassed Valerie Adams' best but the Belarusian has to repeat that in London. Photo / AP.

It's a solid list, and by no means all these athletes will bring home a medal. But the names below represent New Zealand's best chances outside rowing for medals at the London Olympics. For every dream, however, there are other athletes lined up to strip it away. Dylan Cleaver and David Leggat reveal those waiting to rain on New Zealand's parade.

Athletics
Valerie Adams is a giant of her sport and has the ability to go long periods looking virtually unbeatable.

BEWARE OF: Nadzeya Ostapchuk (Belarus) has started throwing big distances from within the comfort of her own borders. Can she bring them to London?

If you posed the question six months ago as to whether Nick Willis looked capable of a repeat medal in the 1500m, the answer might have been no. He has come into form at exactly the right time.

BEWARE OF: Kenya's Asbel Kiprop crossed the line second in Beijing but was promoted to first. He and compatriot Silas Kiplagat will be hard to beat.

There's been a bit of buzz around Stuart Farquhar this year after he smashed his javelin PB in Hiroshima.

BEWARE OF: Farquhar will need the throw of his life to beat the two VVs, Vitezslav Vesely (Czech Republic ) and Vadims Visilevskis (Latvia).

As befits her personality, Kim Smith just quietly goes about stacking up excellent results. She will be near the front early in the marathon and hopefully near the end, too.

BEWARE OF: Any number of entrants from East Africa. The Kenyans, like Mary Keitany, and Ethiopians, like Tiki Gelana, love this distance

Cycling
The men's team pursuit looked a little off the pace at the Melbourne world champs but still picked up bronze. Jesse Sergent will make them stronger.

BEWARE OF: Great Britain and Australia look awesomely talented.
Likewise, the women's team pursuit struggled to make it work in Melbourne. Alison Shanks cannot do it all on her own.

BEWARE OF: No surprises here, Australia and GB are the class of the field.

If Shane Archbold can get the points race worked out, he's a real prospect of a medal in the omnium. That's a big if.

BEWARE OF: There's a theme developing here - Tom Clancy (GB) and Glenn O'Shea (Australia).

Only an eagle-eyed commissaire stood between Simon van Velthooven and a bronze in the keirin at Melbourne.

BEWARE OF: The one and only Sir Chris Hoy (GB) and Maximilian Levy (Germany).

Danish import Linda Villumsen has become a consistent minor medallist at world champ time trials.

BEWARE OF: Emma Pooley (GB) will have hometown support and Judith Arndt (Germany) is all class.

Beijing didn't quite work out as planned, but BMXer Sarah Walker is four years smarter now.

BEWARE OF: Shanaze Reade (GB) is fast and loose, while Magalie Pottier (France) comes in ranked No 1.

Equestrian

Past the lull after the halcyon years of eventing, the team are now firmly in the frame. Captain Mark Phillips is among equine world notables who suspect they're in for a big Games. Aside from the two big names, Jock Paget is rated world-class.

BEWARE OF: The Brits will be led by the world's No 1-ranked rider William Fox-Pitt. They've got a controversial touch of royalty too in Zara Phillips and six-time Olympian Mary King.

In the individual event, he's 56 but if you think Mark Todd is history, forget it. Although NZB Campino is not his top mount, that has never stopped the double individual champion before.

Todd and Andrew Nicholson are at a record seventh Games. This could be Nicholson's time. He's on the best horse he's had, Nereo, is world No 2 and is confident.

BEWARE OF: Fox-Pitt has Britain on his side, a formidable record, but don't discount highly-regarded German Michael Jung.

Hockey

With speed to burn in their forward line, the women's Black Sticks are capable of beating most sides on their day. Consistency could be an issue.

BEWARE OF: Argentina are tough and brilliant, an accusation you could also throw at the Netherlands.

Kayaking

When Lisa Carrington (K1 200m) rocketed to the world title last year, she caught the paddling world napping. A narrow second in her only World Cup regatta this year, she's right on the money.

BEWARE OF: Natasa Janics, the three-time Olympic champion from Hungary is the other standout in the field. Should be a cracking contest.

Sailing

Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie have won the past two major 470 regattas at Weymouth, the Olympic venue.

BEWARE OF: The new "Blondes in the Boat", Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark (GB), are favoured as well as the Dutch pairing of Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout.

He won his battle with Tom Ashley, but will that mean anything come Olympic time for boardsailor Jon-Paul Tobin?

BEWARE OF: Training partner Dorian van Rijsselberge (Netherlands) and Julien Bontemps (France).

Blair Tuke and Peter Burling are qualified to medal in the 49er after finishing second at the sailing world champs and 49er world champs.

BEWARE OF: Australian duo Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen are highly rated, while local hopes rest with Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes.

Swimming

It's her second Olympics and Lauren Boyle (800m freestyle) is older and wiser and, having made finals at 400m and 800m at last year's worlds, has greater self-belief. Certainly in the medal frame.

BEWARE OF: Brit heroine Rebecca Adlington, defending champion, is head and shoulders clear of the field.

Triathlon

The ultra-consistent Andrea Hewitt deserves a medal, but this is a tight field with no clear form horse.

BEWARE OF: Nicola Spirig (Switzerland) won at Kitzbuhel last month. Emma Moffatt (Australia) and Helen Jenkins (GB) will certainly be there, or thereabouts.

It's difficult to see veteran Bevan Docherty keeping pace with the speedsters, but he's hard as nails and a canny operator.

BEWARE OF: The magnificent Brownlee brothers, Alistair and Jonny (GB), are formidable.

- NZ Herald

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