New Zealand loves its sports stars when they are game on, winning cups and medals. But there are some who shine off the field as well.
Queen of the One Liner
Black Ferns Sevens Olympic gold medallist Ruby Tui is a dab hand at lip-syncing on TikTok and can drop a line after a match, on social media or as a commentator on Sky Sport guaranteeing laughter or a fist pump, as much as she does on the field.
After winning their pool A game against ROC (Russia) The 29-year-old sevens' star wasn't shy when it came to praising her opponents in an interview with the BBC, her comments went viral on social media with more than 1.5 million views. Some calling it the best sports interview ever.
"BBC . . . Better Be Clear she said, referring to the broadcaster initials, before switching to Samoan.
She then went on to say that the game was so hard her GPS blew up.
She shows humour, charm and kindness towards her losing team after every game. Her partner, Dani Fennessy, was still crying with pride a day after her girlfriend and the team won gold at Tokyo against France last month. Back home in MIQ, Tui told Australian TV show The Cheap Seats that she'd heard the only way to get out of MIQ was by breaking a bone.
Days later, Tui went viral on Twitter posting her reaction to Snoop Dogg and Kevin Hart watching a clip of the Ferns doing the haka in an Olympic highlight's reel on NBC.
"I'm not even sorry at how excited I got over Snoop Dogg vibing with our haka," she wrote.
Tui has been years ahead of the curve, speaking out for mental health in sport, and just this week she spoke on a BBC Olympic show, saying just how massively important the topic had become.
All Black with his head above the crowd
Time after time, All Black TJ Perenara puts his hand up and makes a stand for others.
Last week the Hurricanes' halfback said he spoke on behalf of fellow players and team management following comments from Hurricanes' board member and part-owner Troy Bowker, which Perenara says contained "underlying racism''. Bowker later resigned.
In 2018, the 29-year-old father stood up for equality and made his stance against the homophobic comments from fellow international rugby player Israel Folau.
"I grew up with people who now identify in the rainbow community and I've got family members who do also, so it is personal to me . . . but even if I didn't, I'd still feel the same," Perenara told media at the time.
In 2019, Perenara showed his support for protesters at an Auckland housing development site when he wrote "Ihumātao" on the wristband he wore, during the Bledisloe Cup decider at Eden Park.
Paralympian Sophie Pascoe left for Tokyo this week to expand her Olympic medal haul.
She is a celebrated author and motivational speaker with awards and accolades from her achievements and her journey — turning an accident as a toddler into a life of triumph.
At the age of 15 she became the youngest medal-winner at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics — winning three gold medals and a silver. Thirteen years later and the nation is eager for her to expand her medal haul in the pool at her fourth Games.
This year Pascoe has done a series of inspirational podcasts called Outside the Lanes. She's talked to likes of Hilary Barry, Willie Apiata, Jimmy Spithill and even Emma Watkins, the yellow Wiggle. Late last month, she announced that her coach of 20 years, Roly Crichton, would not accompany her to Tokyo for medical reasons.
"I'll be sure to make Roly, the rest of my team and supporters proud," she told social media followers.
Last week, before she left Christchurch for staging camp in Cambridge, she posted a picture of herself visiting Crichton in hospital.
Boxing's Mr Nice Guy
All eyes are on the big sponsorship deal Kiwi Olympic bronze medal-winner David Nyika will sign. It will be as much for his Olympic stardom as for his nice guy status, which is exactly how he describes himself on his Instagram.
For more than a year in his Olympic build-up, Nyika won fans through his interviews and social media posts. His humble attitude and good sense of humour makes a nice change to the brawn and bravado usually amped up by boxers.
When he stepped in at the last minute to carry the Olympic flag at the opening ceremony alongside Black Fern Sarah Hirini, he said: "This was hugely unexpected but I couldn't be more proud to step up, it is a huge honour and there's so many athletes who are deserving of this privilege. It's really special and I'm super proud."
After the ceremony the double Commonwealth Games gold medal-winning boxer beamed with pride and took the public along with him on his happy journey.
In a nod to his new-found heart-throb status, this week the 26-year-old made fun of himself being shirtless on billboards on social media, joking that no-one had told him his "half-naked arse" would be on billboards across the country.
The snow magician
Snowboarder Zoi Sadowski-Synnott briefly became the country's youngest Olympic medallist in 2018 at the Winter Olympics in South Korea — and only the second New Zealander to win a Winter Olympic medal.
She followed her bronze medal with victory in the slopestyle world championship in 2019 as well as a pair of Winter X Games titles.
She is a thrill-seeker and adrenalin-junkie and has amassed more than 60,000 Instagram followers — more than many All Blacks.
But it is her performance in the Natural Selection tour — an extreme competition — this year that has elevated her to the highest echelons with older freestyling snowboarders welcoming her competitive, daredevil edge.
The event is not for the faint-hearted and draws an audience of millions on Red Bull TV as competitors fly over sheer cliffs in British Columbia and North America before finishing in the Alaskan wilderness.
The globe- trotting snow magician now has her second Winter Olympics in her sights next year and with the experience she has gained in the past three years, the sky is the limit.
Iron punch in a velvet glove
Reigning UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya is a gentleman to his fans and always makes time to be kind and pose for selfies. He also shoots straight from the hip.
The 32-year-old Nigerian-born fighter has fighting words for any injustice he sees. Among the causes he stands up for have been equality and improving New Zealand's justice system.
"I really didn't realise me being black was a problem, until I got to New Zealand," Adesanya said in a wide-ranging interview with the Daily Telegraph last year.
It might have been hard for Kiwis to hear, but the words were similar to the speech Adesanya made at the Black Lives Matter rally in Auckland in June last year.
His fighting spirit may have indeed come from standing out at school and being bullied when he first arrived here. Adesanya said he ended up getting in a fight with someone who told him to go back to his own country.
Fighting talk to his opponents has landed Adesanya in hot water a few times, but the heat-of-the-moment trash talk has always been swiftly followed with an apology. Adesanya has
recently been outspoken after the home detention sentence handed down to a man for the May assault of Fau Vake, who later died.
In June he placed his UFC middleweight belt on the canvas and bowed in front of it to acknowledge the loss of Vake.