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Rio Olympics 2016: Black Sticks going for 16th Kiwi medal

Anita McLaren of New Zealand celebrates with teammates after scoring a first half goal against Australia. Photo / Getty
Anita McLaren of New Zealand celebrates with teammates after scoring a first half goal against Australia. Photo / Getty

The women's Black Sticks are hoping to make it sweet 16 overnight.

They face Germany in the bronze medal match at 3am knowing victory will add a 16th medal to New Zealand's Rio haul.

The Kiwis surged past the previous best of 13 today with five medals in around 12 hours, the joint record for a single day of Olympic action.

The Black Sticks will need a fast change in fortunes after being outclassed by Great Britain 3-0 in the semifinal.

Coach Mark Hager has laid down a challenge to his side: Remember how to play as a team.

Hager said that was something they forgot against Britain. He was bemused by their performance, particularly given their 4-2 dismantling of Australia in the quarter-finals two days earlier.

"I think the players thought they could just do it themselves, rather than playing as a unit," he said.

"I think that's the most gut-wrenching thing - we just didn't play as a team."

The result was even more disheartening given it was Britain who denied the Kiwis a bronze medal at the London Olympics four years ago.

"The girls have got to understand, there's still a bronze medal on the line," Hager said. "We can sulk and cry and whatever, and go away like we did four years ago with nothing. Or we can come out and play how we know we can play, and that's as a team."

Black Sticks skipper Kayla Whitelock, playing in her fourth Olympics, believes her team can put the disappointing result behind them. She says the world No.3 Germans will provide a tough test, still smarting from their 4-3 penalty shootout semifinal loss to the Netherlands.

"It's going to be hard, but there's two teams that have got to get up for it," she told NZ Newswire.

"If we work hard, and run really hard, and chase, and do all the things we had been doing, then we can really come home with something."

Whitelock said the eighth-ranked New Zealanders will have to rediscover the connections that went missing under pressure against Britain.

"Whether it was because we weren't leading for each other, or we just weren't giving the ball early enough. That's what we've done against all the other teams we were beating convincingly."

While the hockey is the headline act for Kiwi fans overnight, there's plenty more action in the morning as the Games near a conclusion.

Pole vaulter Eliza McCartney will be in action at 11.30am and at 12.40pm, Nikki Hamblin will be back on the track in the 5000m final.

Hamblin made headlines around the world after a fall brought down US runner Abbey D'Agostino in the heats.

Both athletes, clearly hurt and emotional, helped each other up to continue with the race.

After initially failing to finish within the qualifying time, both runners were added to the final after a protest from their respective teams.

Their embrace and shared tears at the finish line was dubbed a true illustration of the Olympic spirit.

You can follow all the action live at nzherald.co.nz and listen to exclusive radio commentary on key events on Radio Sport.

- NZ Herald

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