New Zealand has had bad Olympics days before. It has had bad Olympics.

It is hard to recall, however, two back-to-back days that have weighed as heavily with disappointment and pessimism than the past two and a bit, certainly not since Sydney 2000.

With five out of six gold medallists from London back, with the majority of the 13 medallists back, with men's and women's sevens and golf included for the first time, most pundits thought High Performance Sport NZ's target of 14+ medals was extremely soft.

Added to that, HPSNZ calculated there were 21 Olympic events that had a New Zealander in the top three in 2015, either through world championship podiums, pinnacle event podiums or world rankings.


By my reckoning, five of those 21 events have already been rendered moot. While the shooting silver was an unexpected bonus, the minuses are far outweighing the pluses in the early stages of the Games.

When the vast majority of the high-performance sporting spend goes into the sole pursuit of winning medals, as it does these days, then medals must be won. It is, at its most cynical, the ultimate job justification tool.

Athletes always feel the pressure, but right at the minute there might be a few administrators feeling it, too.


It gives me no pleasure writing this, but what the Chiefs did on their end-of-season jolly was low-rent, ugly and... frighteningly normal.

We can't address what the Chiefs did without putting it in context. As soon as sportsmen are old enough to drink, and often before they are legally old enough to imbibe, they are taught the reward for sport is booze.

Not just that, they are taught the way to celebrate sporting success, to commiserate sporting failure and the way to bond as a team, for heaven's sake, is to hit the piss. In the professional environment, the sessions are less frequent, but no less intense.

A night on the pints is team sport's lingua franca and, until we address that, we can tut-tut all we like but we'll keep having these types of incidents.

We are nothing but hypocrites if we condemn Mad Mondays, as All Blacks coach Steve Hansen rightfully and eloquently did, yet have a good, old chuckle about the state of the All Blacks during the victory parade after the 2011 World Cup final and watch Shane Warne ask every member of Australia's winning 2015 Cricket World Cup side how many beers they were going to have that night.

What the Chiefs did was, frankly, brainless but until we get to the root of the problem - that seemingly unbreakable connection between sport and drinking sessions - we're going to keep having these incidents.


The New Zealand cricket side have a few problems ahead of their test series against South Africa, some minor, some not so.

The series win against Zimbabwe was never in doubt and several players took the gift-wrapped opportunity to boost their batting averages on Bulawayo's featherbed pitches against an attack that probably doesn't equate to a Plunket Shield side.

Tom Latham (105, 136, 13), Kane Williamson (91, 113, 68 not out), BJ Watling (107, 83 not out) and especially Ross Taylor (173, 124, 67 all not out) cashed in with runs and time at the crease.

Mitchell Santner didn't get a bat, which is awkward, but not nearly as awkward as the situation at No 5, where Henry Nicholls was presented with two fantastic opportunities and went for 18 and 15. During both innings he showed the sort of technical flaws outside off stump that should have the Proteas' attack, even without Morne Morkel, drooling.

Nicholls is just four tests into a career New Zealand selectors hope will be long and prosperous, but there was always a nagging suspicion that he was fast-tracked into the position.

His average of 37 in 38 first-class matches with four centuries does not present an overwhelming statistical case for selection, particularly when compared to another middle-order southpaw, Colin Munro, who has racked up nine centuries and an average of 48.20 in just two more matches.

Munro might lack Nicholls' elegance at the crease but he doesn't lack his runs.

Munro is not on this tour; Nicholls is and will likely stay at No 5 for the first test against South Africa starting at Durban next week. And, as England coach Trevor Bayliss said recently, it's always better to give a batsman one too many opportunities than one too few.

He needs a score, though.


They reckon at the Baltimore Sun there have been at least 99 stories about Michael Phelps on the front page over the course of his career. We won't chart all those but here's a nice pic gallery of their coverage.

This is quite an amusing take, from Slate, on the jerkiness of Sun Yang... and his rival.