New Zealand's best medal hopes in Glasgow

22:54, Jul 19 2014
Andrea Hewitt
MEDAL HOPE: Andrea Hewitt provides New Zealand with their best individual medal shot.

Eleven days. That's all the time New Zealand's Commonwealth Games team has to cover itself in glory in Glasgow. It will be a rollercoaster ride of thrills and spills, flops and heroics from next Thursday night when the action beams into New Zealand from Scotland.

It will be over in less time than an Olympics and in only a heartbeat compared to football's World Cup. But it will be 11 days of helter-skelter action. To help you soak it all in, we've selected some headliner Kiwi athletes to focus on each day of Glasgow.


Thursday, July 24

Andrea Hewitt: Women's triathlon, from 10pm

Hewitt was made for triathlons. Coming from a surf lifesaving background, she stunned the triathlon community when she won the world under-23 championship in 2005, only a year after taking up the sport.


The following year she won a Commonwealth Games bronze medal in Melbourne and finished her rookie year on the ITU circuit ranked ninth in the world. "I was still so new to the sport at that time. All the pressure was coming from me - I wanted to win," she recalls.

Hewitt's career high point came in China in 2011 when she won the world championship series' grand final. Hewitt has had a second and sixth in ITU races this year and is a realistic medal chance, with the hot field weakened in recent weeks by illness and injury to some of the favourites.

This will also be the first appearance in the pool for our potential swim queen Lauren Boyle who will turn out in the 200m freestyle heats on this night New Zealand time.

Did you know: Triathlon first made an appearance at the Commonwealth Games in 1990 as an exhibition sport. New Zealand won both the men's and women's races via Rick Wells and Erin Baker.


Friday, July 25

Glenn Snyders: 200m breaststroke in first night of swimming finals, 6am-8am

New Zealand swimmers have won just one gold at the past four Games - Moss Burmester's triumph in the 200m butterfly in Melbourne in 2006 - so there is much to aim for in Glasgow.

Glenn Snyders is our top male swimmer and considered our best bet of a medal on this opening night of the Games swimming programme. He is competing in the men's 50m, 100m and 200m breaststroke events in Glasgow and it's the longer event he fronts in first. The Los Angeles-based Snyders will be hoping to get the Kiwi swim campaign off to a flyer with a podium performance but faces stiff competition from South African Cameron van der Burgh, Australian Christian Sprenger and the home team's Ross Murdoch and Michael Jamieson.

The good news is Snyders showed good form in winning a 100m final in a big California meet before leaving for Scotland.

Did you know: New Zealand has won 77 swimming medals - 13 gold, 29 silver and 35 bronze, ranking us fourth overall in the Commonwealth behind Australia (557), Canada (332) and England (303).


Saturday, July 26

Marc Ryan: Individual pursuit final during track cycling session from 3am to 6am.

The elder statesman of the New Zealand endurance team, Ryan remains a quality performer as shown by his individual pursuit bronze at the world championships in Colombia in February, and gold at the Oceania champs last November. The 31-year-old from Timaru has dual bronze medals from the teams pursuit at the past two Olympics. Staged the day after the team pursuit, the IP will feature up to three New Zealanders with youngsters Patrick Bevin and Dylan Kennett also tipped as ones to watch.

Did you know: The IP is no longer on the Olympic programme but it's a regular medal source at Commonwealth Games for New Zealand, with Alison Shanks (gold) and Jesse Sergent (silver) making the podium at Delhi in 2010.


Sunday, July 27

Simon van Velthooven: 1km track cycling time trial finals from 3am to 6.30am.

Day three of the track cycling finals and the man known as the "Rhino" will be unleashed at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome. The Feilding flyer is a huge chance in the keirin, in which he won Olympic bronze in 2012, but his kilo time trial form is strong, too, and rates him one of the favourites for gold. At the last three world championships van Velthooven won bronze, silver and bronze to confirm his status among the world's top sprinters.

Did you know: New Zealand's men will be hoping to break a 12-year gold medal drought on the Commonwealth Games cycling track. The last track gold for the blokes was snared by Greg Henderson in the points race in Manchester in 2002.


Monday, July 28

New Zealand rugby sevens team: Medal matches from 4.15am to 9.30am.

Crunch day in the Sevens as DJ Forbes looks to lead us to a successful defence of the Games title. New Zealand has won all four Commonwealth sevens titles with the masterful Sir Gordon Tietjiens at the helm. Form on this year's World Sevens Series has again installed New Zealand as warm favourites with the normal suspects of Fiji, Samoa, Australia, South Africa, Wales, England and even Kenya vying to upset the men in black.

Did you know: New Zealand has never lost a match at the Commonwealth Games since it was introduced in 1998. We beat Fiji in Kuala Lumpur and Manchester; England in Melbourne; and Australia in Delhi.


Tuesday, July 29

Lauren Boyle, Tom Walsh and Jacko Gill: Women's 800m freestyle final during swim finals session from 6am to 8.30am. Men's shot put final in track and field session from 1.30am to 5.30am.

Lauren Boyle has qualified in the 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle events and is a member of the 4x200m freestyle relay - which makes for a very busy time in Glasgow.

But it is the 800m event that the triple world champion medallist shines strongest in. She is tipped for gold in this event. After coming off altitude training in Spain, she recorded the fourth-fastest time in the world this year for the distance in winning the French Open title earlier this month.

Meanwhile, shot put titans Tom Walsh and Jacko Gill clash in the qualifying round of their pet event in the opening session of the track and field event. There are high hopes for two medals in Glasgow from this event and the pair will be looking to lay down huge markers ahead of the final.

Did you know: Our most successful ever swimmer, Danyon Loader, 200m butterfly Olympic gold medallist, won the final in Atlanta in 1996 just two years after breaking through with a win at the Commonwealth Games. Can Lauren Boyle use Glasgow as a springboard to Rio.


Wednesday, July 30

Sophie Pascoe and Nicki Hamblin: Women's para-sport 200m individual medley in swim finals session from 6am to 8.30am. Women's 1500m final in track and field session from 6am to 9.30am.

Christchurch's inspirational golden girl and five-time Paralympic gold medallist will compete in the 200m individual medley final, the second of her two events in Glasgow.

Look out also for aspiring 1500m runner Nicki Hamblin who will be trying to match our men's pedigree in this blue riband event.

Did you know: These Commonwealth Games are the first to integrate disabled and able-bodied sports. There are five para-sport disciplines with 22 medals up for grabs.


Thursday, July 31

Val Adams: Women's shot put in track and field finals session from 6am to 9.15am.

Is there a surer bet for gold in Glasgow than our Val? We would like to have the same odds of winning Lotto.

Adams appears to have shrugged off a worrisome shoulder complaint and has been firing in the summer European Diamond League, extending her unbeaten run of top victories to 52.

Did you know: Val first competed in the Commonwealth Games as a 16-year-old in 2002 in Manchester. She scooped a silver medal there and has won the past two Commonwealth Games gold medals.


Friday, August 1

Li Feng Yang: Men's 3m springboard final from 5am to 7.30am.

After only being cleared to represent New Zealand in January, Li Feng Yang will lead his adopted country in diving.

While our history suggests New Zealand will struggle on the diving board, Yang wants to bring home medals.

After injury curtailed a promising diving career in China, Yang has climbed back to the top in New Zealand.

"I've lived in New Zealand four years now," he says. "Representing New Zealand at the Commonwealth Games is really exciting and I'm also really proud."

Alongside Liam Stone, Yang will be New Zealand's first male diver to be seen on a games diving board since Wayne Cobb in 1998. But it's not just the diving board; Yang wants a spot on the podium.

"Right now my results are quite good based on Commonwealth Games countries, and I want to make the top three."

Did you know: Yang has been diving since he was 5. But after winning plenty of trophies in China, injury cut short his career. So he moved to New Zealand and combined his diving with coaching.


Saturday, August 2

Tina Hakeai: Women's discus final in track and field session from 6am to 9.30am.

It's hard to be noticed in women's field events in New Zealand with Val Adams around but Tina Hakeai hopes to step out of her superstar team-mate's giant shadow in the discus final. She won't win it. Australian star Dani Samuels is in a league of her own but 20-year-old Hakeai is ranked third in the Commonwealth and well capable of medaling if she performs to her potential.

With any luck, New Zealand will also have finalists in the 800m women's final (Angie Smit) and women's high jump (Sarah Cowley).

Did you know: At the end of the last Games in Delhi, New Zealand had earned 130 gold medals since first competing in the Commonwealth event in 1930. We also have 189 silver medals and 245 bronze which ranks us fifth in the all-time medal tally behind Australia, England, Canada and India.


Sunday, August 3

Silver Ferns and Nick Willis: Netball final set to start at around midnight. 1500m men's final in athletics session from 6am to 9.30am.

Wind the clock back four years ago and that epic Delhi showdown in the final against Australia's Diamonds.

Glasgow is looking like another repeat of an epic trans-Tasman confrontation for the gold medal. The Silver Ferns are travelling to the Games without the redoubtable Irene van Dyk and with the Australians having dominated the trans-Tasman club championship this year.

The final is sure to be one of the "must watch" events of these Games.

Nick Willis, the silver medallist from Beijing, is running into the form of his life. He is so confident around his training regime that he is tackling the 1500m-5000m double at these Games.

But it is the 1500m that Willis remains a topline international competitor. He won this event in the Melbourne Commonwealth Games and finished third in Delhi four years ago.

Willis is in strong form, recently eclipsing Sir John Walker's 31-year-old New Zealand record for the 3000m.

Did you know: The 2010 final between New Zealand and Australia is officially the longest game of major netball played. It went to double extra-time before the Silver Ferns won 66-64.

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