By Keith Miller
There’s nothing better than a surprise performer – as an example few picked Natalie Rooney to pick up the silver medal in the Women’s Trap Shooting yesterday, which made it all the more sweet.
So to turn on the TV at 4.30am this morning and be smacked in the face by Luuka Jones performing so outstandingly in the Canoe Slalom was a sight to behold. After a penalty free run in Round One, and an exceptionally tidy second place, she finished third in the second heat after a two second penalty. Jones is now fourth overall going into the semis – an enormous achievement.
On the back of that was the disappointment of the Women’s Black Sticks losing 2-1 to Germany, ranked four places lower. The NZ side looked the more dominant side in the first half, and deserved their early 1-0 lead. However, Germany fought hard to get back into the game, and despite the best efforts of Sally Rutherford in goal, came away with the win. Set piece play will need to be improved – it looked rushed and complicated at times. By no means a disaster, but hardly ideal.
Then it was off to the very sparsely populated Sevens. As soon as Great Britain lost two players to the bin just before half time the semi-final was effectively over, but you still have to put the opposition away, and the NZ girls did just that. For the first time since the hockey in 1976 NZ came up against Australia in an Olympic team final….and….silver medal. The officiating was awful, but Australia outplayed the NZ side. If rugby really wants this version as its showpiece, they need the best officials there as well.
The archery, yet again, was an outstanding watch. The swirling winds made for incredibly tricky conditions so the scoring wasn’t as high as usual, but the tension was never higher than when Saori Nagamine was attempting to save her match against local heroine Ane Marcelle dos Santos. The Japanese shooter was down 5-3, and needed to take the final set to force a shoot-off – she had one arrow, and only needed a 5 or better to force the tiebreaker. The choke was on, and she missed the lot, scoring a one.
A big shout out as well to Tauranga born Tongan representative Arne Jensen. He performed very well indeed against the Dutch archer Sjef van den Berg before losing 7-3 in a close fought match.
There was actually some rowing overnight. I didn’t get to see any of it, but it looks as though the conditions were vastly improved – however, it was a fair to middling performance from the NZ crews. Great to see the Eights in action.
Apparently we’re looking good in the Team Equestrian standing as well. That’s nice.
I managed to catch some of the women’s handball as well. The Norwegians looked pretty smart edging Spain by three points, and there’s a Norwegian player called Mork. She is waaaaay hotter than the Robin Williams version.
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