Editorial: What an inspiration our Olympians are
MICHAEL CUMMINGS - EDITOR
OPINION: The bulk of the New Zealand Olympic team was due to return home today, capping off a stellar performance at the Games of the 30th Olympiad in London. And Manawatu should be as proud as anywhere in the country of the performance of their local athletes who took on the world during the past couple weeks.
If there was any lingering doubt about where the true home of cycling in New Zealand is, Jesse Sergent and Simon van Velthooven shattered it.
We might not be getting the national velodrome and cycling centre that is Waikato-bound, but we have two more Olympic cycling bronze medals - on top of the one Sergent won in Beijing - that underscore the fact this region is already the country's centre of cycling excellence.
More importantly, the international success of local heroes such as Sergent and van Velthooven will undoubtedly inspire Manawatu kids to take up cycling as a sport. These young men have shown aspiring cyclists in the region that they are bound by nothing except their own determination to succeed. They can now see the path from Feilding or Palmerston North to a spot on an Olympic podium because two local cyclists have blazed the trail.
And Sergent and van Velthooven weren't the only athletes to represent the region with distinction at the Olympics. Kayla Sharland and Emily Naylor, co-captains of the women's Black Sticks, led an incredibly courageous effort from the side, which also included local player Melody Cooper. The side was cruelly denied a place in the gold-medal match, before missing out on bronze in the play-off against Great Britain. While they'll be bitterly disappointed, they can hold their heads high.
With the wealth of hockey talent in Manawatu, Sharland, Naylor, Cooper and men's representative Nick Wilson won't be the last locals to don the silver fern, and their achievements will do wonders for the game in the region.
While Kris Gemmell (triathlon), Anna Green (football) and Ryan Taylor (shooting) aren't coming home with medals, they're proof of the diverse range of sporting talent Manawatu is producing.
So, as these nine outstanding athletes return to the region, let's make sure they know, whether they're wearing Olympic medals around their necks or not, how incredibly proud we are of all of them.
Well done, and welcome home.
A year ago today Palmerston North was blanketed in snow for the first time in decades. You can see a photo gallery and video of those amazing scenes at manawatustandard.co.nz.
- © Fairfax NZ News