How many medals do we expect in London?
OPINION: It is 41 days till the Olympics start. Sports are announcing their teams, sometimes throwing up names we have barely heard of.
This week it was a paddler, two female boxers and our men's and women's hockey teams.
The computers are predicting seven medals for New Zealand in London, two fewer than were won in Beijing.
Not everyone agrees with the computers, though. Take the New Zealand Olympic Committee, for instance. It is thinking double figures.
"Performances over the last year mean that we are on track for that," NZ Olympic Committee spokeswoman Ashley Abbott said.
"We have 22 athletes sitting in the top three [of their respective sports] in the world."
Who is right and who is wrong?
Let's try to break it down and come up with our own predictions.
1.Who are our gold-medal certainties?
Barring bad luck we have two. If Val Adams doesn't drop the shot put on her toe, she has her rivals at her mercy and the same can be said for the rowing pair of Hamish Bond and Eric Murray.
Only seaweed or a hole in the boat can beat these two, who have won everything of significance since 2009. Great Britain's crack pair of Pete Reed and Andrew Triggs Hodge have already waved the white flag and jumped ship to the four.
2.Who else should medal?
As the NZOC points out, there are technically 20 prospects but some are genuine and some are just long shots. Our best two medal prospects outside the "big two" are the face of rowing in single sculler Mahe Drysdale and triathlete Andrea Hewitt.
3.Traditionally we are very competitive on the water or sitting down or a combination of the two. Should be expect the same?
Absolutely. Various rowing crews, bike riders and sailors have realistic claims.
Look out for rowing's double scull of Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan and the women's pair of Juliette Haigh and Rebecca Scown.
Still on the water, look out for kayaker Lisa Carrington, the K1 200-metre world champion.
The best of the bike riders might be the men's team pursuit, time triallist Linda Villumsen and BMX's Sarah Walker and Marc Willers.
On the water, Andrew Murdoch (single-hand dinghy) and the two-person dinghy of Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie will be hovering around the top of the leaderboard as will be boardsailor Jon-Paul Tobin.
Equestrian's Andrew Nicholson and Mark Todd can never be written off.
4.So besides Val, will we win any other medals standing up?
Yes, Hewitt and maybe boardsailor Tobin.
5.Who is our best dark horse?
The men's hockey team are a good outfit. They finished fourth at the Champions Trophy and recently won a soft international tournament called the Azlan Shah. Their problem is they have to get past the Netherlands and Germany in pool play to advance to the medal round.
6.How will our defending medal holders from Beijing go?
Gold: Val should win.
Silver: 1500m runner Nick Willis was the story of Beijing but his form since has been underwhelming. He is clever tactically, which might be enough to get him through to another final.
Bronze: triathlete Bevan Docherty has been off the pace. Drysdale was ill last time and now is nursing a sore shoulder after being knocked off his bike. With any luck, he wins. Hayden Roulston has gone from track to road, which weakens his claims and that of the team pursuit.
7. Who will be our flagbearer at the opening ceremony?
Drysdale carried the flag in Beijing, this time it will be Val.
My predicted medal count is nine (again):
Gold: Drysdale (rowing), Adams (shot put), Bond and Murray (rowing).
Silver: Hewitt (triathlon).
Bronze: Men's 4000m team pursuit (cycling), Lisa Carrington (kayaking), Marc Willers (BMX), Cohen and Sullivan (rowing), Haigh and Scown (rowing).
- © Fairfax NZ News
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