By Keith Miller
It’s amazing how many emotions you can experience in 12 hours’ worth of sport. After the extreme disappointment of watching the Men’s Black Sticks lose to Germany in the most surreal way, there was a little trepidation when tuning in to watch the Women’s Black Sticks come up against perennial foes Australia.
Their record over the last 5 games with Australia was LWLWL, and although Australia hadn’t really fired during pool play, this was by no means an easy route to a semi-final. The Australian Men’s had been smashed earlier by the Netherlands 4-0, and the pressure was on them to move to the semi-finals for the first time since Sydney 2000.
A powerful drag flick from a Penalty Corner by Anita McLaren in the seventh minute opened the scoring for the Black Sticks, and Kelsey Smith brilliantly poked the ball into the back of the net just before half time. 2-0 it was – an all too familiar scoreline……
Then it was squeaky bum time as the Australians pinched one back, but that didn’t last long before Gemma Flynn showed an extraordinarily cool head in scoring the third. Olivia Merry made it 4-1 (or was it Charlotte Harrison?), and even a late goal from Australia couldn’t prevent the NZ side advancing to the semi-finals. They now play Great Britain (who beat Spain 3-1 this morning on the back of a very strong first half) on Thursday.
After cruising through the qualifying round of the 200 metre Canoe Sprint, Lisa Carrington made a real statement in qualifying fastest out of the semi-finals. She recorded an Olympic best time of 39.561 seconds, but looks to have plenty in the tank. The final takes place at 12.47am Wednesday morning (NZT), and, without wanting to pile unnecessary pressure on her, you would think it’s just the colour of the medal to be decided
Dylan Kennett finished 8th in the Omnium at the Velodrome, and had to do it tough. He was sitting fourth going into the points race, after winning the Flying Lap and the 1km Time Trial in Personal Best times. He lapped the field early in, but that effort took its toll as Italian Elia Viviani managed to survive a crash early in the race.
The crash was caused by silver medallist Mark Cavendish, although the commentators for some reason ignored that, and simply took delight in how Cavendish stayed on his bike. Speaking of Cavendish, it is interesting that some of the Germans are now vocalising what a number of people have been thinking for a few years.
Natasha Hansen rode well, but came up against Kristina Vogel (the same one as above) in the knockout stages of the Women’s Sprint. Vogel was too strong, but it was a good performance nonetheless from Hansen. This is still a young NZ Track Cycling team, and it may be looking in very good shape come 2020.
Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk had a day to remember in the Hammer event. She threw well over a metre further than her previous World Record, clocking 82.29mtrs. To really make an impression, two throws later she hurled the hammer 81.74mtrs, meaning that within an hour she had thrown the best two hammer throws in history. Her nearest competitor – China’s Wenxiu Zhang – was 5.5mtrs back in second.
It may seem suspicious that in field events such as the Women’s Shot Put, the World Record (set in very dubious circumstances) remains miles away from being broken, yet the hammer record is being broken quite comfortably, and quite consistently. But before anyone panics, the IAAF only started recognising the event in 1994 – so there’s a good chance it is legitimate.
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