By Keith Miller
It all started so well overnight from a NZ perspective. Yet it could be argued that after so much expectation, this was one of NZ’s most disappointing days at the Olympics.
In the rowing, it was Drysdale, Twigg, and Bond & Murray all through as expected in what looked like the best conditions on the course so far. Then it all turned pear shaped, with both Double Sculls crews failing to make the A final, after being tipped as very solid medal contenders. But if anything, it was all about to get worse from a NZ perspective.
The Men’s Black Sticks were tied up 2-2 with 26 seconds left before conceding a late winner to the surprise performers to date, Spain. Devon Manchester (above) had an outstanding game in goal, with several memorable stick saves, but the Spanish kept plugging away and came up with the chocolates. It was a heartbreaker, making it extremely difficult for them to progress from here on in.
The Equestrian team had one hand on the Gold before slipping back to fourth, the swimmers were an abysmal failure (again), and the Football Ferns were average in a 3-0 loss to France.
But there was time to relax as the Men’s Sevens looked to atone for the disappointment of yesterday as they took on Japan. And relax they did, going down 14-12, losing Sonny Bill Williams to an Achilles injury in the process. Sure they came back well to beat Kenya, and it’s not all over yet, but some damage has been done.
The predicted record medal haul for NZ already looks to be a fading memory. Here’s hoping that the expectation levels are not foisted onto those outside medal chances to make amends.
Elsewhere there was time to catch a few different events, not involving New Zealanders.
In the Fencing there was a remarkable Epee Gold medal match. Korea’s Sang-young Park was trailing 13-9 going into the last period, with Hungarian veteran Geza Imre only needing two points to win. But he got a little excitable and tried to finish it off with flourish – Park took advantage, won the final period 6-1 and Imre had safely snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
And surely – surely – there must be some ramifications for a fencer who tucks an electronic device into his pocket during competition?
The Italian Men’s Volleyball team repeated their success from 2012 by beating the USA 3 sets to 1, as the Danes comfortably beat the Tunisians in a sometimes spiteful Handball match.
The Archery continued with the Men’s Elimination rounds. US archer Brady Ellison (above) was shooting 10’s for breakfast as he beat teammate Jake Kaminski. He was the silver medalist in London, and if he continues his form from this morning, there’s every chance he could go one further.
In a lightweight boxing match, Algerian Reda Benbaziz dished out an impressive lesson to Russian Adlan Abdurashidov. The sight of the Russian running, nay sprinting, in to try and batter the Algerian in the third round looked a little farcical, but Benbaziz took him apart. He was not generally identified as medal hope before the competition started – that may have changed somewhat.
Here’s hoping for a happier day ahead for New Zealand.
Sure, the timing is largely crap from our point of view, but I guess that’s why the likes of Olympic tragics like me take two weeks leave. So if you don’t have an opportunity to see something live throughout the schedule, I’ll be tweeting up a storm – most likely at some ungodly hour of the night. Keep an eye out: @keith_miller_nz