Rio Olympics 2016: Super Saturday

Emma Twigg will be taking part in the women's singles sculls semifinals at the Rio Olympics this Saturday. Photo / Photosport
Emma Twigg will be taking part in the women's singles sculls semifinals at the Rio Olympics this Saturday. Photo / Photosport

Get ready for "Super Saturday" - potentially our biggest day so far of the Rio Olympics.

August 13 was long ago tipped as the date most likely to be most productive in terms of medals in these Games.

That may seem like tempting fate in the current context of Rio not quite proving to be the bonanza of medals many Kiwi sports fans and media commentators had hoped for.

The lofty target of up to 24 medals from these Games - one that would have created history as our most successful ever Olympics - died on "woeful Wednesday" and "terrible Thursday" when some of our hottest prospects crashed out of contention, including world champion time trial cyclist Linda Villumsen, the men's sevens rugby team and world champion rowers Zoe Stevenson and Eve McFarlane.

New Zealand's Hamish Bond and Eric Murray win gold in the men's pairs, Olympic Rowing at the Rio Olympics Games 2016. Photo / Photosport
New Zealand's Hamish Bond and Eric Murray win gold in the men's pairs, Olympic Rowing at the Rio Olympics Games 2016. Photo / Photosport

New Zealand got back on track today with our first gold medal via the indomitable rowing pair of Eric Murray and Hamish Bond, a surprise silver from canoe slalom paddler Luuka Jones and our world champion men's cycling sprint team being edged into silver by Great Britain in the final.

But it was always going to be this Saturday - or "Famous Friday" as it might be called in Brazil, taking into account the time difference - earmarked as potentially our most fertile day for medals.

At the forefront of the charge will be Valerie Adams, chasing her third consecutive gold in the shot put.

But rower Mahe Drysdale will attempt to get New Zealand off to a flyer just after midnight with the semifinals of the single sculls. He should progress to the final and a chance of a successful defence of his London Olympic Games crown about 24 hours later.

Drysdale's semi will be followed soon after by Emma Twigg in the women's singles semifinals.

The 2014 world champion has also been impressive in Rio. She will be optimistic of progressing to the final, also on Sunday morning NZ time, and winning her first medal at an Olympics in her third attempt. She finished fourth in London.

But rowing fans might not need to wait until Sunday morning for more medal action. There could be others soon after Drysdale and Twigg's semis.

Julia Edward and Sophie MacKenzie are considered a medal chance in the women's lightweight double scull final, as are Genevieve Behrent and Rebecca Scown in the women's pair.

Around the time the rowers are doing their thing, Adams will be in the qualifying stages of the shot put. A win would secure her standing as our most successful ever woman Olympian.

The Auckland star should breeze through qualifying, with the final set down for shortly after 1pm New Zealand time tomorrow.

There is also the prospect of more medals in the track cycling.

The men's individual sprint holds good prospects for the Kiwi riders as well as the men's team pursuit where a minor medal is within reach. Our women's sprint team is also a chance if they perform to their best.

Quentin Rew is also a long shot for a medal in the 20km walk.

While Super Saturday represents a great chance for New Zealand to shoot up the medals table, it is becoming painfully apparent we may struggle to top the tally of 13 achieved in London four years ago and Beijing in 1998. They are our joint most successful Games.

SUPER SATURDAY

Rowing: Men's single scull semifinals - Mahe Drysdale, 1am

Athletics: Women's shot put qualifying - Valerie Adams, 1.05am

Rowing: Women's single scull semifinals - Emma Twigg, 1.10am

Rowing: Women's lightweight double scull final - Julia Edward and Sophie MacKenzie, 1.32am

Rowing: Women's pair final - Genevieve Behrent and Rebecca Scown, 2.04am

Athletics: Men's 20km walk, Quentin Rew, 5.30am

Diving: Women's 3m springboard preliminary, Elizabeth Cui, 6.30am

Cycling: Track - Women's team sprint, qualifying and finals (if qualified), 7am

Cycling: Track - Men's sprint qualifying and 1/16 finals/repechage - Eddie Dawkins, Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster, 7.14am

Cycling: Track - Men's 4000m team pursuit, first round and finals (if qualified), 7.52am

Athletics: Women's shot put final - Valerie Adams, 1pm

- NZ Herald

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