Let’s drink to that: Ring­mas­ter Nyika has golden touch

Sunday News - - RUGBY - LIAM HYSLOP ON THE GOLD COAST

THIS pint golden.

David Nyika, who was given his Ir­ish bev­er­age nick­name by his team-mates after dy­ing his hair blond, beat Aus­tralian Ja­son Whate­ley with a unan­i­mous 3-0 de­ci­sion to win the 91kg heavy­weight di­vi­sion Com­mon­wealth Games ti­tle yes­ter­day.

‘‘Gold on gold looks good, huh?,’’ Nyika quipped with his gold medal draped around his neck.

The 22-year-old be­came the first New Zealand man to win Games gold medals in two weight classes after win­ning the 81kg di­vi­sion in Glas­gow in 2014.

He said be­ing the first Kiwi to do that was spe­cial.

‘‘It’s his­tory and I’m glad to be a part of that, but it wouldn’t be so with­out such a sup­port­ive fam­ily. My par­ents, my sib­lings, my girl­friend, all my friends and fam­ily that have sup­ported me up to this point. It’s been a team achieve­ment.’’

That team was ring­side yes­ter­day and en­sured the home crowd was drowned out dur­ing Nyika’s dom­i­nant per­for­mance.

Chants of ‘‘Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi’’ from the home crowd early in the first round were an­swered by the singing of Tu­tira Mai Nga Iwi and chants of ‘‘Let’s Go David, Let’s Go’’ from Ki­wis. The Aus­tralian chants were not heard again as Nyika pounded Whate­ley with flur­ries of punches. of Guin­ness is GETTY IM­AGES

He said he was feed­ing off the parochial Kiwi crowd.

‘‘I thought if I could drown the crowd out I would slow him up a lit­tle bit. The first round I si­lenced the Aus­tralians a lit­tle bit and let the Ki­wis shine. It was re­ally spe­cial to have them in the crowd sup­port­ing me. I built through­out the fight as they got louder.

‘‘I could [hear them singing], and they were blast­ing it [ Tu­tira Mai] out in the court­yard be­fore the fight.

‘‘They’d had a lit­tle bit of prac­tice so I knew what I was com­ing into. It’s great to have a chant, to have some­thing to back me up. I’ve never re­ally had a chant be­fore. It’s a lot bet­ter than Aussie, Aussie Aussie.’’

Nyika came into the fi­nal hold­ing a 3-0 ca­reer record against Whate­ley and was quickly on the front foot as he used his reach and quick­ness to good use in the first round.

He bat­tered Whate­ley through­out, choos­ing to stand in between rounds to fight the men­tal bat­tle as well as the phys­i­cal one.

Whate­ley came out swing­ing early in the fi­nal round, but Nyika was quickly back on the front foot with hooks and up­per­cuts.

It de­vel­oped into a slugfest for the fi­nal 90 sec­onds with both fight­ers land­ing hard punches. Nyika ended the fight in the as­cen­dancy.

Nyika said he would re­lax for a while be­fore de­cid­ing his fu­ture.

‘‘I couldn’t tell you, the next few weeks I’m go­ing to have to keep my feet up.’’

David Nyika re­acts after win­ning his 91kg heavy­weight fi­nal.

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