Checking out our hot Olympic medal chances
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,
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.