David Leggat on sport

David Leggat is a Herald sport writer

David Leggat: Two to go, then it's off to seek medal 600

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Valerie Adams celebrates with her gold medal at the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games. Photo / Getty Images
Valerie Adams celebrates with her gold medal at the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games. Photo / Getty Images

The spaces are being filled; only the men's hockey team and the sevens rugby squad remain to be named for the Commonwealth Games starting next month.

The projected team number of 235 is likely to be slightly reduced with the withdrawal yesterday of marathoner Kim Smith, and through Sod's Law, which in this case says someone will have a dose of bad luck on the eve of competition.

The team ranges in age from 67 (para bowler Sue Curran) to 15-year-old gymnast Courtney McGregor.

If any athletes want to know the ins and outs of the Commonwealth Games they should seek out shooter Greg Yelavich. The dead-eye veteran is attending his eighth event, this time as an official.

Then there's those competing at their fourth games -- shot putter Valerie Adams, cyclist Greg Henderson, shooter Sally Johnson, table tennis player Karen Li and, pending their selection, hockey men Dean Couzins and Phil Burrows.

New Zealand need 35 more medals to bring up No 600. A few weeks ago it was 36 but then in the course of a pile of housekeeping, a 565th medal was uncovered in the dusts of time.

Those medals have been won in 25 sports. They range from the big achievers athletics (125), cycling (82) and swimming (77) down to what might be called the onezies -- water polo (silver, 1950 Auckland), archery (Neroli Fairhall's gold in Brisbane in 1982) and, lest we forget, cricket (bronze in Kuala Lumpur in 1998).

Match the Delhi haul of 36 and the New Zealand Olympic Committee will get its 600.

But new chef de mission Rob Waddell has carefully avoided talking medal projections. He prefers to talk about athletes getting a sense of personal achievement, and says "outcomes take care of themselves".

Still, the public like nothing better than to pin down numbers.

Those officials and politicians who went public ahead of the Melbourne Games of 2006 spouting talk of matching or exceeding the 45 won in Manchester in 2002 -- the best at any Games held outside New Zealand -- finished up wearing custard pies.

An underachieving group gained 31 medals, the lowest return since 1982.

Just as there will be disappointments, so there will be athletes who arrive home with their standing significantly enhanced. Then Rio and the Olympics beckon in 2016.

These Games are an international event in their own right, but they are also a preparatory event in which athletes show they have enough about them to take the big step up, or if they have found their true level.

- NZ Herald

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