A target of 14 medals was set for New Zealand at Rio, but that was seen a little on the light side. With the Games wrapping up tomorrow, Andrew Alderson, David Leggat and Dana Johannsen rate our athletes.


Total Rio spend*:


Percentage of HPSNZ spend:


Cost per medal:

No medal


Best result:

There's not much to choose from but Corey Main at least posted two personal bests to finish 14th overall in the men's 200m backstroke.

A poor return from the nine-strong swimming team. Lauren Boyle carried New Zealand's hopes, and was expected to medal in the women's 800m freestyle, but illness on the eve of the Games robbed her of conditioning and she missed out on a place in the final (she was ninth fastest). No one else came close to making a final and swimming will come under considerable scrutiny when the next round of funding is dished out.

Diver Elizabeth Cui was a lowly 24th out of 29 in the women's 3m springboard.


Total Rio spend: $14.462m
Percentage of HPSNZ spend: 8.4%
Cost per medal: $3.615m
Best result: Eliza McCartney's bronze in the pole vault showed what a talent she is.

This team met their quota for drama and excitement. Valerie Adams was on the cusp of becoming the first New Zealander to win gold at three consecutive Olympics but fell short when Michelle Carter produced a personal best with her last put.

Fellow shot putter Tom Walsh became the first New Zealand man to earn a medal in an Olympic field event. The 24-year-old builder's best of 21.36m secured bronze.

Nineteen-year-old Eliza McCartney became New Zealand's youngest female Games medallist with bronze in the pole vault. She cleared her personal best of 4.80m and an extraordinary career is in prospect. Finally, Nick Willis added to his silver medal in Beijing with a remarkable run to claim third in the 1,500m. Quentin Rew's 12th in the 50km walk and Zane Robertson's national record in the 10,000m were other highlights.


Total Rio spend: $7.567m
Percentage of HPSNZ spend: 4.4%
Cost per medal: $3.784m
Best result: Lisa Carrington, gold in the K1 200m

Carrington got her two Olympic medals and, even if not the two golds she'd been chasing, it puts her on a par with Barbara Kendall and Val Adams as the only three-time women's Olympic medallists. She was supreme in her specialist event, in which she's unbeaten since winning the world title five years ago, but found Danuta Kozak was in a class of her own in the 500m. Carrington immediately said the performance of Kozak had given her the drive to press for more.

Marty McDowell was last in his heat. The K4 women Jaimee Lovett, Caitlin Ryan, Aimee Fisher and Kayla Imrie did all that could be expected by finishing fifth in their final. That's a top result for a crew who only got together last year and their progress has been substantial.

In the canoe slalom, Luuka Jones is a fine example of an athlete who has benefitted from previous Games' experience. Rio was her third Olympics and no one expected a medal from the frothy water. Call her silver a bonus medal in the final washup of New Zealand's haul.

Dawson, at his second Games, finished a highly-creditable 10th, although as he'd sat sixth going into the final, it could be argued as a disappointment. Still, Dawson's is a great story, the athlete who wrote a cookbook to raise money to get to Rio, then donated food to the poor in a favela.


Total Rio spend: $26.471m
Percentage of HPSNZ spend: 15.3%
Cost per medal: $26.471m (pending Gaze result)
Best result: Men's team sprint, silver.

The pre-Games target was four medals, including three on the track, so this is a poor return. They were the second-biggest beneficiary of taxpayer money and secured seven top-eight placings. High performance boss Mark Elliott conceded three fourths were tough to stomach.

How cycling is treated by the paymasters in December will be intriguing. There has been substantial investment so it may be the results are treated as, if not an aberration, then certainly something which may not cost the sport too much funding.

The men's sprint team, world champions two of the past three years, got silver by a blink against Britain and Lauren Ellis finished fourth in a strong omnium field. The two pursuit team also got fourths but were well beaten in their medal races.

Trent Jones finished seventh in his BMX semifinal, a decent return at his first Games. Mountain biker Sam Gaze is on tomorrow morning.


Total Rio spend: $9.110m
Percentage of HPSNZ spend: 5.3%
Cost per medal: No medal
Best result: Fourth in the team eventing.

This could be argued as New Zealand's biggest disappointment. Consider the context.

New Zealand, reduced to three riders, were sitting in the gold medal position in the showjumping with Mark Todd to jump last. He could afford to drop a rail and still secure the gold. But Todd's horse, Leonidas II, sent four rails to the ground. First to fourth, just like that. Todd looked shattered afterwards.

Clarke Johnstone on Balmoral Sensation finished an impressive sixth at his first Olympics, Todd was seventh and Jonelle Price on Faerie Dianimo 13th. Most discussion will focus on Todd's future. At 60, he is New Zealand's second oldest Olympian, after first-time dressage rider Julie Brougham, who failed to progress to the second stage.


Total Rio spend: $6.078 million
Percentage of HPSNZ spend: 3.5%
Cost per medal: No medal
Best result: 1-0 win over Colombia.

The Football Ferns set an ambitious target of winning gold, which was never going to happen, but they were expecting to make the quarter-finals in the 12-team competition. They were saddled with a tough draw, and one win from three games was not enough to progress. They were not disgraced but the current side is the most experienced in history and have never really performed on the highest stages.


Total Rio spend: $246,000
Percentage of HPSNZ spend: 0.14%
Cost per medal: No medal
Best result: Dylan Schmidt, who finished seventh on the trampoline. First Olympics, 19, top effort.

New Zealand had three gymnasts in Rio. Schmidt was considered a wildcard to get close to a medal at his first Games and finished a creditable seventh. Look for him in Tokyo to make a big step.

Neither Mischa Koudinov (45th overall) nor Courtney McGregor (41st) advanced beyond the qualifying stage in the artistic competition.

Lydia Ko with her silver medal. Photo / Getty
Lydia Ko with her silver medal. Photo / Getty


Total Rio spend: $457,000
Percentage of HPSNZ spend: 0.3%
Cost per medal: $457,000
Best result: Lydia Ko, silver medal.

Lydia Ko gave New Zealand golf a huge boost with her silver medal overnight, putting together a superb finish to sit only behind Inbee Park on the podium.

Danny Lee (27th, two-under par) and Ryan Fox (39th, one-over par) were sound but unspectacular. Lee threatened after his second round 65, the best of the field. As far as cost-per-medal goes, they hardly broke the system, but then they're expected to be professional anyway.


Total Rio spend: $15.104m
Percentage of HPSNZ spend: 8.8%
Cost per medal: No medal
Best result: Women's fourth.

The women matched their world ranking but that won't alleviate the pain. It was the same scenario they faced in London four years ago: win a game to collect bronze. They failed to deliver.

In London, they were dreadful in the bronze match. In Rio, they gave it everything but could not convert a hatful of chances against Germany and lost 2-1.

Cue tears and, in the case of captain Kayla Whitelock, a farewell. But they need to have a hard think about themselves. One of their strengths is pace but perhaps they need to embrace a touch of pragmatism instead of going flat out at speed through the midfield as their chief attacking modus operandi. They also need to find an eagle-eyed striker. Two British penalty strokes in three minutes undid the Black Sticks in their semifinal. The men's Black Sticks had a shattering conclusion, leading Germany 2-0 with five minutes left, only to concede three goals, the last in the final second. They had played a terrific game until then and senior player Shea McAleese conceded New Zealand had choked. It will be the end for one of the country's best, Ryan Archibald. They finished fifth overall, and their world ranking is eighth, so they get a pass mark.


Total Rio spend: $98,000
Percentage of HPSNZ spend: 0.06%
Cost per medal: No medal
Best result: Darcina Manuel beat Russian Irina Zabludina by yuko in the first round.

Darcina Manuel, who won bronze at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, was the only Kiwi in action. She was knocked out in the second round by former world No 1 and eventual bronze medallist Telma Monteiro from Portugal.

Mahe Drysdale. Photo / Getty
Mahe Drysdale. Photo / Getty


Total Rio spend: $32.069m
Percentage of HPSNZ spend: 18.6%
Cost per medal: $10.69m
Best results: Men's pair and single sculls golds.

New Zealand's mercurial performances will generate debate because the programme's funding levels are under threat for the first time in years.

Unbackable favourites Eric Murray and Hamish Bond completed their 24th unbeaten regatta and consecutive gold medals. Genevieve Behrent and Rebecca Scown backed up with silver in the women's pair.

Mahe Drysdale's single sculls gold, in the closest rowing race in Olympic history, offered redemption on the final day but New Zealand failed to meet their five-medal expectations.

Single sculler Emma Twigg suffered the anguish of finishing fourth at successive Games and neither eight could boost the sport's haul.

The focus of the latter two crews is probably on Tokyo 2020, but silver to the women's eight at last year's world championships offered premature hope. Rowing bosses will claim it is the price to be paid for seeking long-term success in bigger boats.

The flipside is that four years from London, the sport relied on their same stocks - aside from Behrent - to secure medals.

The commendable aim of qualifying 14 boat classes was not met. Eleven qualified, which filtered into eight finalists and three medallists.

Rowing New Zealand must also now fill the void created by Dick Tonks after 17 years' employment and many others volunteering. With Drysdale's result, he won one or more gold medals at each of the last five Olympics.


Total Rio spend: $10.235m
Percentage of HPSNZ spend: 5.9%
Cost per medal: $10.235m
Best result: Silver in the women's competition.

Kiwis rubbed their hands together with glee when sevens was added to the programme, with many pencilling in two golds. It's more a case of hand-wringing now. The women's programme delivered a meritorious silver, going down to nemesis Australia 24-17 in the final, and there's an opportunity to grow the women's game in this country.

The men were ousted by eventual champions Fiji in the quarter-finals, which could be a good thing because it will make rugby and high performance sport bosses contemplate whether Olympic gold is high on their list of priorities. Many nations now have a centralised sevens programme and have overtaken New Zealand.

Peter Burling and Blair Tuke. Photo / AP
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke. Photo / AP


Total Rio spend: $18.363m
Percentage of HPSNZ spend: 10.6%
Cost per medal: $4.591m
Best result: Peter Burling and Blair Tuke's complete dominance of the 49er class.

The sailing team have been the story of the Olympics for New Zealand after netting four medals, three of them in the space of two exhilarating hours on Guanabara Bay. Of the medallists, only Burling and Tuke were assured of a podium spot heading into the medal race having amassed an unassailable 34-point lead heading into the decider. For the women's 470 crew of Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie, and the 49erFX pairing of Alex Maloney and Molly Meech, who both captured silver, they could easily have come home empty-handed had they not delivered in the medal race. In the late medal flurry, the efforts of Sam Meech, who captured New Zealand's first medal in the highly competitive Laser class, were overlooked.

Kiwi crews featured in the medal races of all seven classes they contested, converting four into medals to top the medal tally for their best return on the water since the Barcelona Games in 1992.

The impressive result will be seen as vindication for Yachting NZ's controversial selection policy, which saw them reject spots in three classes as they did not regard the sailors, who were all ranked inside the top 16, to be medal capable.


Total Rio spend: $101,000
Percentage of HPSNZ spend: 0.06%
Cost per medal: $101,000
Best result: Natalie Rooney, silver medal in the trap.

Rooney got New Zealand on the medal board in Rio with her outstanding display. Composed and clearly chuffed, Rooney is a good example of an athlete who deserves a significant funding bump. She led the gold medal shootoff early on before losing by one shot. There was plenty to admire about her performance.

Levin marksman Ryan Taylor finished 16th, up nine places on London. Skeet shooting Olympic debutant Chloe Tipple was 13th, nailing 67 out of 75 shots.


Total Rio spend: $132,000
Percentage of HPSNZ spend: 0.08%
Cost per medal: No medal
Best result: NA

New Zealand's only representative, debutant Andrea Kilday, had a tough road to get to Rio - full-time job, two kids and virtually no funding - and was beaten 7-5 by a Brazilian in the first round of the women's 49kg category.


Total Rio spend: $0
Percentage of HPSNZ spend: 0%
Cost per medal: No medal
Best result: Close but no new balls.

New Zealand sent only two players (Michael Venus and Marcus Daniell) and they went down in a tight first-round match to Canada's Vasek Pospisil and Daniel Nestor, who were beaten semifinalists.


Total Rio spend: $7.606m
Percentage of HPSNZ spend: 4.4%
Cost per medal: No medal
Best result: Andrea Hewitt seventh.

Met expectations. Alongside Sissons, Tony Dodds finished 21st. Both missed the break on the bike and continue to live in the shadows cast by Hamish Carter and Bevan Docherty. The men's arm of the sport must now prepare for some HPSNZ austerity. Andrea Hewitt, and Nicky Samuels fared better, with Hewitt claiming seventh and Samuels finishing in 13th.


Total Rio spend: $124,000
Percentage of HPSNZ spend: 0.07%
Cost per medal: No medal
Best result: Tracey Lambrechs, fifth in group B of 75kg+.

A disappointing return. Lambrechs, fifth in group B, admitted she was a touch below her best in lifting a total 231kg. Richie Patterson was 16th out of 23, with 330kg - that's two places lower and 6kg less than London in 2012. It seems odd athletes can be in a grouping where they have no chance of winning a medal, so why go?


Total Rio spend: $15,000
Percentage of HPSNZ spend: 0.01%
Cost per medal: No medal
Best result: NA

Craig Miller got a late call-up for the 66kg division when an Australian wrestler was banned for doping last month but injured his knee in training and withdrew from the competition. He wasn't expected to figure . . . and didn't.