Finally – we can cease our national pastime of wondering when the medals will come four days into competition and start celebrating.
It was Silver for the All Blacks Sevens Men’s team as they lost to arch rivals Fiji 27-12 in the final. Looking for redemption from a failed 2016 campaign, they struggled to overcome a great early start from Fiji and were always playing catch up. In the playoff for third and fourth, Argentina took the bronze with a 17-12 win over GBR.
New Zealand also gained a Silver Medal at the rowing in the Women’s Double Sculls, with Brooke Donoghue and Hannah Osborne finishing a credible second to an outstanding Romanian crew. It was a little up and down at the regatta for New Zealand – whilst the Men’s Eight won their repechage, and Keri Gowler and Grace Prendergast comfortably won their semi-final (retaining their World Record time in the process), the only talking point was the Norwegian crew that had to be fished out by the lifeguards.
The Men’s 100m Freestyle at the Swimming looks to be a two-horse race tomorrow between Kliment Kolesnikov (ROC) and Caleb Dressel (USA), after both won their respective semi-finals. In saying that, that is how the Women’s 200m Freestyle Final was supposed to turn out, being Katie Ledecky (USA) and Australian Ariarne Titmus. But Ledecky could only manage 5th as the Australian took it out from Hong Kong swimmer Siobhan Haughey and Canadian Penny Oleksiak. It was the sixth Olympic Medal for the 21-year-old from Toronto – there are many more likely to come. Hungary’s Kristof Milak looked almost bored winning Gold in the 200m Butterfly, breaking an Olympic Record in the process.
Late in the evening, New Zealander Lewis Clareburt continued his great form in the pool, qualifying third fastest in the Men’s 200 Individual Medley – another fine performance. He will have his work cut out for him in the semi-final though, with most competitors within spitting distance of each other.
In the Tennis, New Zealanders Marcus Daniell and Michael Venus took out their match against Colombian third seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 6-3, 3-6, 10-7 to advance to the semi-finals in a cliff-hanger.
In the Men’s Handball, Bahrain had been a bit of a surprise packet, going down by the solitary goal in both of their first two games. They held reigning champions Denmark to a low scoring first half to five goals (12-7), but ultimately the Danes won out 31-21 in an entertaining game.
More disappointing coverage (i.e., none) from the Trap Shooting as Natalie Rooney was looking to repeat her medal success from Rio. She was consistent enough to fire 3 x 23’s but that leaves her well off the pace with two rounds to go in qualifying.
In the Canoe Slalom. Luuka Jones qualified 9th for the semi-finals in the C1, while Callum Gilbert snuck in as the final qualifier for his K1 semi-final in 20th place. For either to win a medal at this point would be a surprise, although Jones could put some pressure on early in the piece.
The Men’s Cycling Time Trial was a good watch, and whilst Kiwis Patrick Bevin (10th) and George Bennett (25th) were solid, they were no match for the likes of Gold Medallist Primoz Roglic – the Slovenian’s nearest competitor was over a minute behind in second.
The Olywhites (stupid name) took on the Romanians, looking to progress out of their pool in their final game. A draw would be enough and at 0-0 at halftime, things were looking good, especially with South Korea up over Honduras at the same time. At the end of the game there was still no score, and New Zealand made it through to the Olympic quarter finals for the fist time in their history.
The Women’s Black Sticks’ lack of control on the ball and poor trapping game saw them limp to a surprise 2-1 defeat against Spain. It was an average performance that put a serious dent in their hopes of progressing. The men took on Australia, and after conceding an early goal, it looked as though the Australians would make short work of the game. But a superb dragflick from Kame Russell from a Penalty Corner locked the scores up, and it stayed that way until half-time. New Zealand hung in there, until three quick Australian goals, followed by another perfectly executed dragflick from Russell left the final score at 4-2. It was a great performance from Goalkeeper Lon Hayward, but he just couldn’t stem the flow in a game that made for a very late night.
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