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Rio Olympics 2016: A new Olympic record for New Zealand

New Zealand's Alex Maloney and Molly Meech celebrate on the podium at the end of the 49er FX women race. Photo / AP
New Zealand's Alex Maloney and Molly Meech celebrate on the podium at the end of the 49er FX women race. Photo / AP

Mark down August 18, 2016, Rio de Janeiro time.

It is the day New Zealand secured a record 14th medal at an Olympics, surpassing the previous joint best efforts of Seoul in 1988 and London in 2012.

The 2016 team also added four medals - gold to 49er crew Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, silvers to women's 470 racers Polly Powrie and Jo Aleh and 49er FX teammates Molly Meech and Alex Maloney, and bronze to kayaker Lisa Carrington in the K1 500m.

Meech, alongside Laser bronze medallist brother Sam, became the fourth set of siblings after Caroline Meyer and Georgina Earl, boardsailors Bruce and Barbara Kendall, and hockey representatives Barry and Selwyn Maister to get a Games medal.

Carrington is the first Kiwi woman to win two medals at the same Olympics, and now has three in total, after taking gold in the K1 200m at London.

Read more:
Burling and Tuke lead great day on the water
Bronze medal for Lisa Carrington
Both Kiwi shot-putters to contest final

That puts her in a category with Kendall, who won gold, silver and bronze at successive Olympics from 1992, and shot putter Val Adams, who has two golds and a silver from the last three Games.

Carrington is the eighth New Zealander to have won two medals of any colour at the same Games, a feat achieved 11 times. Kayakers Ian Ferguson and Paul MacDonald, and eventer Blyth Tait, did it twice.

With Tom Walsh and Jacko Gill set to compete in the men's shot put final from 11.30am, a Freakish Friday (or Tremendous Thursday) looks set to match the Super Saturday of August 16, 2008.

On that occasion New Zealand secured five medals. Shot putter Adams joined scullers Meyer and Earl as gold medallists, cyclist Hayden Roulston took silver in the individual pursuit and sculler Mahe Drysdale and coxless pair Nathan Twaddle and George Bridgewater earned bronze.

As the Herald captured it at the time: "For four thrilling hours, New Zealand were winning a medal an hour - a rowing gold to the resurgent Evers-Swindell twins and two bronzes at Shunyi, and a Hayden Roulston silver at the Laoshan Velodrome.

"There was just time to draw breath before shot putter Valerie Vili put on her meanest game face, stepped into the Bird's Nest and won the first New Zealand athletics gold in 32 years, when 1500m runner John Walker staved off all comers in the straight at Montreal.
"And so the number of medals New Zealand won at Athens in 2004 had been equalled in a flash, and the meagre catch from Sydney 2000 exceeded."

The 2016 total of 14 Rio medals - 11 of which came sitting down - reaches High Performance Sport New Zealand's target mark but, with the addition of women's golf and rugby sevens at these Games, 17 seems to be a fair extension and challenge to London given the talent unleashed over the past fortnight.

New Zealand could still achieve that mark through the following events:
1. Tom Walsh and/or Jacko Gill in shot put (starting at 11.30am)
2. Women's hockey, potential bronze
3. Andrea Hewitt in triathlon
4. Eliza McCartney in pole vault
5. Lydia Ko in golf
6. Nick Willis in 1500m
7. Sam Gaze in the men's cross country mountain bike
8. Women's K4 500m

One record this team seems unlikely to match is the eight golds (all sitting down) from 1984 at Los Angeles. You can only beat the competitors against you, but that haul was influenced by the Eastern bloc boycott. By comparison, Rio has produced four golds.

That said, 'unexpected' silvers like those of shooter Natalie Rooney and canoe slalom kayaker Luuka Jones have been among the highlights of New Zealand's campaign, proving there is hunger and growth in other sports beyond those in the top funding tiers.

- NZ Herald

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