Check­ing out our hot Olympic medal chances

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT -

Barely four months out from the 2012 London Olympics, how is our team shap­ing?

Peter Miskim­min, the Sparc boss, told me: ‘‘There aren’t many bolters now.

‘‘We have a good idea how we’ll go in London based on lead-up form, es­pe­cially in the pre­ced­ing year.’’

On that ba­sis, New Zealand should fare well in London. Row­ing, cy­cling, hockey, triathlon, eques­trian, track and field and kayak­ing have given us par­tic­u­lar cause for op­ti­mism.

In re­cent Olympics we have won four medals, in­clud­ing one gold, at Syd­ney in 2000; five medals, in­clud­ing three gold, at Athens in 2004; and nine medals, in­clud­ing three gold, at Bei­jing in 2008.

New Zealand Olympic Com­mit­tee sec­re­tary-gen­eral Kereyn Smith is hopeful of im­prov­ing even on the im­pres­sive medal haul in Bei­jing, say­ing re­cently she ex­pected New Zealand would fin­ish in London with more medals than they won in Bei­jing.

Given the mas­sive em­pha­sis on the Olympics these days by coun­tries such as Bri­tain, Ger­many and France, plus the surge in top-qual­ity per­for­mances by Asian and East­ern Europe ath­letes, that would be some achieve­ment.

It’s dif­fi­cult Olympics.

In 1960, a vir­tu­ally un­known Peter Snell, ranked 26th in the world in the 800m, left Rome with a gold medal around his neck.

On the other hand, sin­gle sculler Mahe Drys­dale was a strong favourite go­ing into Bei­jing in 2008, but be­came ill and had to strive man­fully just to win a bronze.

From this dis­tance, here’s who I re­gard as our strong­est medal con­tenders for London:

Va­lerie Adams, shot put. Big Val is un­beaten since 2010, is the world cham­pion and de­fend­ing Olympic cham­pion.

Mahe Drys­dale, sin­gle sculls row­ing. Drys­dale is the great sin­gle sculler of the 2000s. It would be fit­ting if he capped his ca­reer with an Olympic gold.

Eric Mur­ray and Hamish Bond,

to

tell

with men’s pair row­ing. Three times world cham­pi­ons, they look solid gold medal ma­te­rial.

Nathan Co­hen and Joseph Sul­li­van, dou­ble sculls row­ing. Dou­ble world cham­pi­ons.

Juli­ette Haigh and Re­becca Scown, women’s pair row­ing. Dou­ble world cham­pi­ons.

Mark Todd, three- day event, eques­trian. This will be the eighth Olympics Todd has been se­lected for, stretch­ing back to 1980. He won Bad­minton last year on Land Vi­sion, so even at 56 must be a strong medal chance.

Sarah Walker, BMX cy­cling. Walker, only 20 at Bei­jing, went within a whisker of a medal. Since then she has es­tab­lished a dom­i­nance in her sport.

Lisa Car­ring­ton, K1 200, kayak­ing. The world cham­pion in this go-for-bust sprint, Car­ring­ton is a hot medal prospect.

An­drea Hewitt, triathlon. Hewitt leads the New Zealand triathlon pack. She was sec­ond in the world cham­pi­onship stand­ings last year, the only New Zealan­der in the top 15.

Jon Paul Tobin, wind­surf­ing. When you have to beat out the de­fend­ing Olympic cham­pion to gain se­lec­tion, as Tobin did, you must be con­sid­ered a se­ri­ous medal con­tender.

From this elite group, I am hopeful of nine or 10 medals, up to five of them gold.

Be­low them, our men’s and women’s team pur­suit cy­clists, our two hockey teams, the three­day event­ing team, sin­gle sculler Emma Twigg, and men’s light­weight dou­ble scullers Storm Uru and Peter Tay­lor seem most likely to add bonus medals to the New Zealand haul.

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