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Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Rio Olympics 2016: Yachting siblings produce medal first for New Zealand

New Zealand's Sam Meech competes during the Laser men race at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Photo / AP.
New Zealand's Sam Meech competes during the Laser men race at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Photo / AP.

Yachting siblings Sam and Molly Meech have written their way into New Zealand Olympic history in Rio.

The Meechs this morning became the first brother and sister to win medals for New Zealand at the same Olympic Games, after Molly, who teamed up with Alex Maloney in the 49erFX, took out the silver medal in the skiff class following a heart-stopping final race.

It followed Sam's bronze medal performance in the Laser class earlier this week. Both Meech siblings are competing in their first Olympics in Rio.

Although the Meechs are not be the first Kiwi siblings to win Olympic medals - recent examples include board sailors Bruce and Barbara Kendall and the Evers-Swindell rowing twins - they are the first brother and sister in New Zealand's history to medal at the same Olympics, and the first set of siblings to medal at the same Games in different events.

Bruce Kendall won a bronze at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and then the gold medal in Seoul four years later. Barbara's gold medal feat came at a different Games altogether, in Barcelona in 1992. Twins Georgina and Caroline Evers-Swindell were gold medal pairs winners in Beijing in 2008.

Sam (25) and Molly (23) were always destined for a career in sailing, having virtually grown up on a boat. The pair spent a good chunk of their childhood cruising internationally on the family keelboat, with their parents Simon and Deb only settling Tauranga once Sam had reached high school age.

Sam credits his upbringing for the pair's yachting success.

"Mum and Dad kind of brought us up on a boat, so we have been around the water since we were very young," said Sam.

"My schooling maybe wasn't quite as good as it should have been, but I think we learnt a lot. It certainly changes how you see the world."

- NZ Herald

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