By Keith Miller
I’m starting to wonder this taking-time-off-to-watch-the-Olympics gig was such a good idea after all. A couple of golds for NZ would have been nice over the past couple of days – in fact, any medals would have been nice. Maybe I’m just a jinx.
It was another disappointing day in Rio for the NZ team, and the much lauded record medal haul now looks well out of reach.
With the rowing cancelled (again) at least there was an opportunity for some much needed sleep. Which didn’t eventuate because the Women’s Time Trial was on, and I was confident that Linda Villumsen was a strong medal chance.
The weather played a big part in the event, at times threatening to cause compete chaos. The course was part of the same one used in the treacherous road race, but wet. You do the math. It did make it a bit of a lottery, but for the third successive time Kristin Armstrong from the USA became Olympic champion.
Villumsen cycled well, but never really threatened any of the split times. Her first session was a little off the pace, which meant she was always trying to play catch up.
Anna van der Breggen backed up her win in the Road Race with the bronze medal, which may well be upgraded soon to silver. The reason? Russia’s Olga Zabelinskaya finished second.
Zabelinskaya returned less than a year ago from an 18 month ban for testing positive for octopamine. Watching a drug cheat on the podium was nauseating, and was another very bad look for the Games, and the IOC. It left a sour taste in the mouth (her medal, not the octopamine – I’d have no idea).
With the rowing out of the question, next up on the viewing front was the Black Sticks Women against Spain. It was looking like a good performance up until the time I passed out from exhaustion, which is no reflection on the team itself. A 2-1 sees the NZ side placed well heading towards the knockout stages.
Then there was the sevens quarter final to look forward to. Wait, against….Fiji? Turns out while I was in the Land of Nod that NZ had conspired to lose to Great Britain. Ah well, the All Blacks couldn’t possibly lose three out of four could they? Um, yes. They could and they did.
Some of the commentary afterwards – largely media driven it needs to be said – focussed on the officiating….again. There has been a very strong sour grapes mentality surrounding both the men’s and women’s tournaments from a NZ perspective, and it is not painting us in a good light. Most unfortunate.
So there’s another guaranteed (apparently) medal out of reach.
The Men’s Black Sticks needed a big win over the host nation if they are any chance of progressing. Goal difference could be a factor, and after a couple of unfortunate slim losses, put Brazil away 9-0. It was all on the back of strong second and third quarters, with Nick Wilson (above) grabbing four very well taken goals.
Managed to tune into the Fencing just in time for the medal ceremony (no thanks), a live game of Table Tennis (no thanks), and the last 90 seconds of the Women’s Handball match between the Netherlands & Korea. What a finish.
After some to and fro the match was all tied up 32-32 with 5 seconds to go, but the Koreans gave away a 7 metre penalty for the Dutch to win the game with time up on the clock. However, the keeper went the right way, and a draw was the final result.
As an aside, I’ve just received a tweet to remind me to watch the NZ’ers in the Swimming semi-finals at 1.28pm this afternoon, but to quote Mick Jagger, “it’s a bit like watching porn – you always know how it’s going to end”. In this case, not well.
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