Rio Olympics 2016: New Zealand has had an Olympic day to savour

By David Leggat

Kayaker Lisa Carrington started the flood of medals for New Zealand. Photo / AP
Kayaker Lisa Carrington started the flood of medals for New Zealand. Photo / AP

The embattled New Zealand Olympic team has had a day to savour in Rio.

Since Mahe Drysdale won his single sculling gold medal early on Sunday, it's been a barren couple of days for New Zealand. The flood opened today with gold medals to K1 200m paddler Lisa Carrington and 49er sailors Peter Burling and Blair Tuke - who cannot be caught in their class before tomorrow's medal race - and a first bronze at the Games for Laser sailor Sam Meech.

There was a demoralising fourth place finish for Nacra 17 sailors Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders, despite winning the medal race today.

New Zealand tend to be prolific in the third place department, but New Zealand's Rio gong tally now stands at four gold, six silver and one bronze.

That's 11 medals, three shy of the High Performance Sport New Zealand projection for Rio. That HPSNZ call was just one more medal than the 13 of London four years ago, which equalled New Zealand's record from Seoul (1988) and London.

It seemed a touch conservative before the Games began.

Now it looks like New Zealand are a decent chance to get beyond 14, albeit not to the extent of reaching the early 20s, as some predictions had them before the Games began.

Carrington backed up her London gold in emphatic fashion in the sprint final today; Burling and Tuke are an uncatchable 34 points ahead of their closest rivals and can't be pegged back. They had three firsts, two seconds, and two thirds in their 12 races. The worst placing was their discarded seventh, a truly outstanding body of work.

There remain solid medal hopes in the remainder of the Games, notably world No 1 golfer Lydia Ko, shot putter Tom Walsh, triathlete Andrea Hewitt, pole vaulter Eliza McCartney, the women's Black Sticks, who play their semifinal against Britain tomorrow morning, and another couple of sailing crews, especially Alex Maloney and Molly Meech.

They go into tomorrow's medal match one point behind the three joint leaders from Brazil, Denmark and Spain. Four crews joust for three medals.

So the despair early on in the Games, as anticipated medal hopes, such as the men's sevens and eventing teams, slid by, should now be replaced by a sense of optimism for the remaining six days of competition.

- NZ Herald

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