An early medal is all Kiwis need to fire up - Currie
GREG FORD IN LONDON
Not even a horror four-hour mystery bus tour for several Kiwi athletes and officials could dampen New Zealand team chef de mission Dave Currie's optimism that New Zealand is on the cusp of a medal winning start to the Olympic Games.
Currie revealed yesterday several team members were among the hundreds caught up last week in an airport transfer bungle when buses from London's Heathrow to the Olympic village got lost due to faulty onboard satellite navigation systems, inexperienced drivers, and a last-minute route change.
The gaffe created international headlines and storm of tweets from angry athletes but Currie said that fortunately the vast majority of the New Zealand team avoided the mayhem and the sore point was the only blemish on an otherwise faultless start to the sporting jamboree.
“It was a bit rough,” he said of the transfer shambles.
“And to the organisers' credit they are listening to us and responding on our concerns.
"It really has been the only problem so far which is in stark contrast to when the team last got together [at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010]. In that respect it is going from the ridiculous to the sublime.
“In Delhi the chef de mission meetings lasted three hours of ranting raving and shouting. Everything has been so smooth here.”
Upon jetting in, the vast majority of the New Zealand team have since jetted out. Yesterday, only a handful of the 185-strong New Zealand team were in situ at the Olympic village; nearly the entire team have embarked on their final offsite pre-Games camps (for example the New Zealand track and field team is tuning up in Cardiff, the men's hockey team has moved to Bath and women's hockey team France).
Currie said the mass exodus was a pre-planned move to avoid the Games bubble and its pressures. “There's no use getting too fired up too early so several signalled some time ago that they would familiarise themselves with the village and then head away before returning for the duration of the Games.”
The general consensus amongst the team was the village was the best they had encountered, said Currie. The veteran of several Olympic campaigns echoed their thoughts and was optimistic the team's confidence could bear early fruit in the form of several medals.
New Zealand's best hopes - in rowing, the velodrome, equestrian, sailing, BMX, triathlon, shot put and women's road race time trial - are all spaced out in an orderly fashion over the Games calendar, unlike previous events.
“In previous Games sometimes it has taken until the second week until we have won a medal so it is really important someone brings one back early.
"I always remember in Athens when the [Georgina and Caroline] Evers-Swindell sisters won gold and Sarah Ulmer said to me: ‘I want one of those', and went out and won one soon after. That's what a medal does for a team. They are huge. Hopefully we can win one early in the equestrian or pool.”
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