Olympic medal­lists dine out on home­com­ing

Marlborough Express - - SPORT - DAVID LONG

Olympic medal­list Nico Por­te­ous didn’t have to wait long for his wish to be granted once back in New Zealand yes­ter­day.

Af­ter ar­riv­ing at Auck­land Air­port and be­ing greeted with a haka, with the rest of the New Zealand team, in­clud­ing fel­low bronze medal­list, Zoi Sad­owskiSyn­nott, Por­te­ous told the large throng of as­sem­bled me­dia that one of the first things he wanted to do was have a pie.

‘‘I’m go­ing to have a steak and pep­per pie,’’ Por­te­ous beamed, with the large medal dan­gling from his neck.

‘‘I haven’t had a pie in at least a month, so I’m pretty des­per­ate.’’

Within a cou­ple of min­utes of say­ing that, some­one had brought him one and he wasted no time in get­ting stuck in.

Get­ting free pies may be some­thing out of the or­di­nary but, for the next while at least, the pair of 16 year olds are go­ing to have to get used to be­ing in the spot­light as the coun­try cel­e­brates its first suc­cess at the Win­ter Olympics in 26 years.

Por­te­ous, who won his medal in the half pipe, said it still hadn’t sunk in that he’s an Olympic medal­list.

‘‘It’s not go­ing to sink in for at least a month, but I’m go­ing to keep be­ing my­self and con­tinue to work hard, just keep ski­ing,’’ Por­te­ous said.

"When I was 10 we had this thing at school where you had to write ev­ery­thing about you and mine had on it Olympics rings and a snow­board." Zoi Sad­owski-Syn­nott

‘‘I’m a bit con­fused over which time zone I’m in now, I only had about an hour of sleep on the plane.’’

Por­te­ous plans to head to Europe soon for some so­cial ski­ing, but Sad­owski-Syn­nott says she’s look­ing to get back to school in Wanaka.

And it was at school six years ago where Sad­owski-Syn­nott, who won her medal in the big air, made a state­ment that Olympic glory was her goal.

‘‘I have al­ways wanted to com­pete at the Olympics,’’ she said.

‘‘When I was 10 we had this thing at school where you had to write ev­ery­thing about you and mine had on it Olympics rings and a snow­board.

‘‘So it’s al­ways been there, but I didn’t ex­pect it to be at the 2018 Olympics.’’

Sad­owski-Syn­nott and Por­te­ous may com­pete in dif­fer­ent events, but they will al­ways be linked by their suc­cess in PyeongChang and Por­te­ous ad­mits there will be a bond be­tween them.

‘‘We’ll al­ways look back at the day we walked back into Auck­land Air­port, both with New Zealand flags around our shoul­ders and medals around our necks,’’ he said.

‘‘This will be a day that will stay with us for a long time.’’

Por­te­ous wants to com­pete in five Win­ter Olympic Games and time is on his side to achieve that.

Sad­owski-Syn­nott says she’s also look­ing for­ward to the next Games al­ready.

‘‘I hope that in four years I’ll be in Bei­jing,’’ she said.

‘‘I’m go­ing to keep rid­ing, I fin­ish school this year, which will be good, be­cause then I can solely fo­cus on snow­board­ing.

‘‘Hope­fully I’ll get an in­vite to the X Games, but I don’t know yet, be­cause that’s the other dream.’’

There will be the chance to see Sad­owski-Syn­nott and Por­te­ous in New Zealand in Au­gust when they both com­pete at the free ski and snow­board ju­nior world cham­pi­onships, which will be a part of the Win­ter Games.

‘‘It’s the best to com­pete at home,’’ Sad­owski-Syn­nott said.

‘‘I’m re­ally glad that we have this World Cup and chance to see what we can do at home, be­cause they don’t usu­ally get the chance to see it, ex­cept for at the Olympics.’’

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES

Nico Por­te­ous and Zoi Sad­owskiSyn­nott are the cen­tre of at­ten­tion af­ter touch­ing down at Auck­land Air­port yes­ter­day.

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