Look­ing to the Hal­berg awards

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT -

The 2012 Hal­berg awards will be tighter than ever af­ter New Zealand’s re­mark­able suc­cess at the Lon­don Olympics.

With due re­spect to the Chiefs rugby team, the Magic net­ballers and other head­line per­form­ers in 2012, the Hal­berg win­ners will be Olympians.

Ex­cept for 1980, when New Zealand largely boy­cotted the Moscow games, in an Olympic year the Hal­berg win­ner, for­merly known as the Sports­man of the Year, has al­ways been an Olympian.

That’s how it should be, be­cause the Olympics is the pin­na­cle of world sport. Do well in that arena and you can truly say you’ve beaten the best in the world. Here’s how I see the awards. Sports­man: Mahe Drys­dale will win this one.

The five- times world sin­gle sculls cham­pion fi­nally won the gold medal that eluded him in Bei­jing in 2008.

Drys­dale, the big man in the 2012 Olympic team, was un­der great pres­sure go­ing into the fi­nal, but de­liv­ered, win­ning con­vinc­ingly from his clos­est ri­val, On­drej Synek of the Czech Repub­lic.

Sportswoman: A tight bat­tle be­tween shot put­ter Va­lerie Adams and sprint kayaker Lisa Car­ring­ton.

Adams was lifted from sil­ver medal­list to gold medal­list the day af­ter the Olympics fin­ished.

Car­ring­ton, a breath of fresh air in New Zealand sport, was su­perb. In a race that pun­ishes the slight­est er­ror, she was in a class of her own in Lon­don. How to sep­a­rate them? Adams was un­beaten in 2012, whereas Car­ring­ton had one loss in a lesser race.

Women’s shot putting is not the most widely con­tested track-and­field event, but on the other hand, the K1 200 sprint is a new Olympic race and the event is still evolv­ing.

Adams was be­low her best at the Olympics, de­spite win­ning gold, whereas Car­ring­ton was in peak form.

It’s a flip of the coin, but for me Car­ring­ton shades it.

Team: Three teams won golds at the Olympics – pairs row­ers Eric Mur­ray and Hamish Bond, dou­ble scullers Nathan Co­hen and Joseph Sul­li­van, and women’s 470 cham­pi­ons Polly Powrie and Jo Aleh.

There were sev­eral other medal­lists, all de­serv­ing great praise – the three-day even­ters, men’s 470 sil­ver medal­lists Peter Burl­ing and Blair Tuke, the cy­cling men’s team pur­suit­ers, light­weight dou­ble scullers Storm Uru and Peter Tay­lor, and the women’s pair of Juli­ette Haigh and Re­becca Scown, but the win­ner of the team cat­e­gory will be a gold medal­list.

Much as I ad­mired how Powrie and Aleh rose to the oc­ca­sion on the last day of their com­pe­ti­tion, and was amazed by the with­er­ing fin­ish­ing sprint of Co­hen and Sul­li­van, I give this one to Mur­ray and Bond.

They didn’t just win the gold medal – they ab­so­lutely thrashed all op­po­si­tion. In fact, they have been so dom­i­nant since 2008 that some top row­ers avoided them in Lon­don by con­test­ing other events.

De­spite the burden of be­ing over­pow­er­ing favourites, Mur­ray and Bond won their fi­nal by an un­prece­dented mar­gin, a row­ing equiv­a­lent of Usain Bolt.

Mur­ray and Bond should also get the big gong, the Hal­berg Award, for their in­cred­i­ble dom­i­nance.

Coach: It is im­pos­si­ble to go past Dick Tonks, the mas­ter­mind be­hind the row­ing squad’s suc­cesses for more than a decade and the in­di­vid­ual coach of sev­eral medal-win­ning crews. Isn’t it time he was knighted? He’s been more out­stand­ing over a longer pe­riod than Gra­ham Henry.

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