The New Zealand Herald

Oblivious Benny makes history as first

- Liam Napier on the Gold Coast

New Zealand has its first female boxing medallist at the Commonweal­th Games, and the team’s trainer may be about to lose his beard to celebrate this historic run.

Tasmyn Benny may, in time, be one of those sporting trivia questions after her bronze in the 45-48kg class broke the ceiling. And with Alexis Pritchard (57kg) and Troy Garton (60kg) guaranteed at least bronze from tomorrow’s semifinals, this Kiwi women’s crew will continue to etch their names in history at the Gold Coast Games.

In all, New Zealand’s eight-strong team will collect five medals, with heavyweigh­t David Nyika and super heavyweigh­t Patrick Mailata also squaring off in their semifinals tomorrow.

While chuffed for the team, the five-medal mark was bitterswee­t for trainer Jake Rapira, with the beard he has groomed since 2013 now under major threat.

At their first meeting before the Games, leading gold medal hope Nyika yelled out that Rapira should lose his beard if the New Zealand team could match their 1950 counterpar­ts and achieve a five-medal haul.

“Everyone cheered and agreed and I had no say in it at all,” Rapira said. “I’m not too happy about it. I’ve put in an official protest. I’d rather have it dyed — I went for silver like the Fern but they’re thinking rainbow colours.

“They’re going to use a cutthroat and they all want to take turns. Lucky I’m the cut man, so if they mess up, I’ll be able to fix myself.”

Benny lost her semifinal to Northern Ireland’s Kristina O’Hara but after winning her first round bout, the 19-year-old Navy medic — nicknamed “Eggs Benny” — walked away with bronze.

“I didn’t actually know until I got told after my fight. It’s pretty crazy,” Benny said of creating history. “I’m pretty happy, I didn’t expect to go home with a medal, my goal was just to win one fight.

“I’m glad I get to take a medal back for New Zealand from my first Commonweal­th Games.

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