Medal half century in New Zealand's reach
With four days left at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, Delhi's medal total has been ticked off by the New Zealand team and the half century is in sight.
Three medals yesterday, the full set of gold, silver and bronze, lifted the team's haul to 39 with several genuine medal prospects still to come.
Linda Villumsen's gold in the women's road time trial was the highlight of the day, but there was also a surprise bronze for gymnast David Bishop in the floor routine - New Zealand's first gymnastics medal at the Games since 1998.
The Mark Noble-skipped New Zealand para-bowls open triples team helped complete the set for New Zealand when they were pipped into silver by the South Africans at the Kelvingrove greens.
New Zealand's medal total was now 39, with a half century still within reach before the end of the Games.
In other news, the Games have sold out of replicas of prickly mascot Clyde the Scotch thistle, a development which has caught many souvenir hunters short.
After years of podium heartbreak, Linda Villumsen finally felt like a genuine winner.
New Zealand's top woman road cyclist broke a string of minor medals in major events to crack it for Commonwealth Games gold overnight, beating England's Emma Pooley by six seconds in a thrilling 29.6km time trial.
Silver medallist in Delhi four years ago, and an agonising fourth by less than two seconds at the London Olympics, Villumsen couldn't hide her delight after hauling back an eight second deficit at the 23.2km mark.
"It means more than anyone can describe, I reckon. It's something we've worked towards for the last four years and every year I've been nearly there, nearly there at worlds," she said.
"It's a confidence boost I just can't describe. It's hard being there but not quite. So finally making it, I'm really happy."
Jaime Nielsen finished fourth, 16 seconds behind Australian bronze medallist Katrin Garfoot, while Reta Trotman was 11th.
Jesse Sergent charged out of the blocks and paid the price in a hot Commonwealth Games men's time trial field.
The New Zealand Pro Tour cyclist was seen as a serious medal chance on his recent form in Europe, but faded to finish fifth in the 38.4km ride around the city streets, won by England's Alex Dowsett.
"There were probably 15 Pro Tour riders and guys that win time trials on the Pro Tour circuit," Sergent said.
"It was a really classy field, but I kept open-minded and concentrated on getting the best out of myself."
Auckland engineering student Bishop emulated the feats of his gymnastics coach by winning a surprise bronze medal in the men's floor overnight.
The 24-year-old, who qualified seventh of eight starters for the floor final, edged Scotland's Daniel Keatings by just 0.017 points to become New Zealand's first gymnastics medallist since his coach, David Phillips, who also won bronze on the floor at the 1998 Games in Kuala Lumpur.
England's Max Whitlock won from Canada's Scott Morgan.
"It's incredible," Bishop said.
"It's been my ultimate goal and for it to happen is surreal really, I'm still waiting for it to settle in. My mouth dropped when I found out I had a medal."
Matthew Palmer was eighth in the men's rings final.
It cut through the chilly air like a knife. A solitary roar of encouragement from her room-mate Valerie Adams in the stands calmed Siositina Hakeai's nerves and sent her on the way to the Commonwealth Games women's discus final.
The 20-year-old from Auckland was hit by the jitters before a packed Hampden Park house of 44,000, but regained her composure to throw 57.19m with her third attempt in qualifying.
That passed the magical yellow line of 57m and booked Hakeai a spot in the 12-woman final, scheduled for 5.15am tomorrow.
The three-time New Zealand champion threw the fourth-best distance of the qualifiers, behind Australia's Dani Samuels (64.53m), India's Seema Punia (58.44m) and Australia's Taryn Gollshewsky (58.24m).
Adams, fresh from her third successive shot put gold, was in the crowd with her coach Jean-Pierre Egger and was no shrinking violet.
"I actually did, I heard her yell. She's my roomie and she's awesome. She's been so supportive and given me advice to calm down, the crowd's going to be crazy, just do my thing and it will happen," Hakeai said.
It was slightly different half an hour earlier when Hakeai strode out to the centre with her 16 rivals.
The previous biggest crowd she'd played to was at the world junior championships in Barcelona in 2012, when she finished fourth.
"That had nothing on this," she said.
"In my warmups I went in calm and relaxed and then started competition and the crowd just went crazy. I've never competed in front of so many people and I think I let the nerves get to me.
"But the main thing is I qualified, that's all that matters. Tomorrow is the day that counts and I'm going to leave my heart out on the field."
Hakeai improved with each attempt, starting with 54.40m, then 56.27m and finally her 57-plus effort, with coach Matt Dallow urging her to relax and treat it like a training session.
Samuels was a red-hot gold medal favourite with a season best of 67.99m, the second-best in the world. But it looked an even contest behind her, and Hakeai's personal best of 59.65m set in Hamilton in February ranked her fourth in the field coming in.
"Anything can happen. But to be honest, if I get a PB tomorrow and don't medal I'll be happy."
The penultimate day at the track was the busiest for New Zealand athletes with 12 in action.
High jumper Sarah Cowley would start things for the team when she jumped for a medal, just before Hakeai's final, while Nick Willis' 1500m campaign started with the heats, alongside Zane Robertson and Julian Matthews.
Nikki Hamblin and Angie Smit would contest the 800m final, Jake Robertson would back up from his 5000m fall in the 10,000m, the women's 4x400m relay preliminaries got under way and Stuart Farquhar would throw his first javelin in pursuit of another medal, four years after his Delhi silver.
Mark Noble, skip of the New Zealand para-bowls open triples team, nearly pulled off a remarkable comeback effort before his side was pipped 13-11 by South Africa in the final at the Kelvingrove greens in Glasgow overnight.
The Kiwi trio of Lynda Bennett, Barry Wynks and Noble had to come from 7-1 down and while they never led during the 15-end match, they were poised to force the final into an extra end until South African skip Derrick Lobban played a shot worthy of a champion to seal a 13-11 win for his side.
South Africa led 12-9 with two ends left to play but Feilding's Noble came staggeringly close to reversing fortunes.
He produced a magnificent draw with weight to knock out the South African shot bowl and give NZ two shots to draw within one with one to play. He looked to have again produced a moment of magic when his draw left NZ sitting one-up in the final end, with just Lobban's last bowl remaining.
But the rival skip was up to the task, as his draw played with a little extra weight, moved Noble's shot off the head enough to give South Africa the win.
"He just played a screamer with the last bowl to beat us after we'd virtually done enough to force the extra end," Noble admitted.
Men's singles exponent Shannon McIlroy was now New Zealand's last hope of improving their bowls medal tally of three when he played his bronze-medal match tomorrow.
McIlroy went down 21-10 to Canada's Ryan Bester in his semifinal, leaving the Nelson bowler to contest the bronze medal match against Australia's Aron Sherriff.
However, there wouldn't be a second medal for Jo Edwards and women's pairs partner Val Smith as they succumbed 14-10 to Northern Ireland's Mandy Cunningham and Barbara Cameron after leading 10-6 through 12 of the 18 ends of their quarterfinal.
New Zealand's final two wrestlers were unable to match the feats of bronze medallists Sam Belkin and Talyla Ford.
Stephen Hill and Craig Miller both failed to reach the medal rounds on the wrestling mat today.
Hill, who was the coach at the Rangiora club where Belkin and Ford trained, was beaten in the 86kg class by Indian Pawan Kumar, while Miller had a win and a loss in the 65kg class.
He beat Mauritius' Christophe Adroit 5-0 before losing to Chamara Perera from Sri Lanka, 4-1, in the quarterfinals.
The Black Sticks men's hockey team thumped Malaysia 6-1 to top their pool and avoid Australia in the semifinals. A brace to Andy Hayward and a goal each to Brad Shaw, Nick Haig, Hugo Inglis and Shea McAleese helped the New Zealanders cruise past Malaysia and go some way to exorcising the demons of being eliminated from the Champions Challenge tournament earlier this year by the world No 13 side. New Zealand would now meet India in the semifinal while the women were to play England in theirs tonight.
Li Feng Yang finished 12th in the final of the 3m springboard at Edinburgh's Royal Commonwealth Pool.
The 24-year-old qualified in ninth place, with compatriot Liam Stone missing out on the final after finishing 14th, with the top 12 divers advancing to the final.
The duo would join forces tomorrow in the 3m synchronised springboard final.
Anna Rankin continued her strong showing in the women's singles by defeating her Kenyan opponent in straight sets to make the last eight.
She was joined in the quarterfinals by Michelle Chan, who beat Wales' Carissa Turner 21-10 21-11.
The mixed doubles team of Kevin Dennerly-Minturn and Madeleine Stapleton retired after dropping the first set to Singapore in their round of 16 match.
Rankin and Stapleton lost their round of 16 women's doubles match 2-1 to the Sri Lankan pairing.
Dennerly-Minturn and Oliver Leydon-Davis won their round of 16 match against a Welsh combination in a walkover.
There was a big upset in the round of 16 of the men's doubles programme, and it involved four Kiwis.
The second-string New Zealand team of Lance Beddoes and Paul Coll knocked out the top team of Campbell Grayson and Martin Knight.
Beddoes and Coll advanced to the quarterfinals with an 11-7 11-10 win in 42 minutes that upset the established order.
Joelle King and Amanda Landers-Murphy bowed out of the women's doubles at the quarterfinals stage, beaten 11-9 11-5 by India's Joshana Chinappa and Dipika Palikal.
However, King and Knight both made amends soon after their defeats when they teamed up to beat Malaysia's Valentino Bon Jovi Bong and Rachel Arthur 11-1 11-6, allowing the silver medallists from Delhi 2010 to move into the quarterfinals.
Coll ended an excellent day with a win in the mixed doubles round of 16 when he and Landers-Murphy beat Scotland's Frania Gillen-Buchert and Alan Clyne in three sets.
There was no fairytale singles run for 52-year-old Kiwi table tennis great Li Chunli as she bowed out in the third round, losing a cliffhanger 4-3 to Malaysia's Beh Lee Wei.
Karen Li was also a third round singles loser, going down 4-0 to Canada's Mo Zhang.
Karen Li and Tengteng Liu were bundled out of the mixed doubles competition after losing their fourth round match to England's Tin-Tin Ho and Liam Pitchford 3-0.
The Li sisters won their second round women's match 3-0 against Barbados, but Annie Yang and Jenny Hung lost 3-0 to Wales.
Phillip Xiao was beaten 4-0 in his second round singles match by Ning Gao, of Singapore, while Tengteng Liu lost 4-1 to England's Paul Drinkhall.
GOLD - 13
Sam Webster (individual sprint), men's team sprint - Sam Webster, Eddie Dawkins, Ethan Mitchell, Tom Scully (men's 40km points race), Shane Archbold (men's 20km scratch race), Jo Edwards (women's singles bowls), Sally Johnston (women's 50m prone rifle), Richie Patterson (men's 85kg weightlifting), Sophie Pascoe (women's para-swimming 100m breaststroke SB9), Anton Cooper (mountain biking), Lauren Boyle (women's 400m freestyle), Sophie Pascoe (women's para-swimming 200m medley S10), Val Adams (women's shot put), Linda Villumsen (women's road cycling time trial)
SILVER - 11
Tom Walsh (shot put), Julia Ratcliffe (hammer throw), Sam Webster (Keirin, cycling), Simon van Velthooven (1km time trial), Adrian Leat (men's 73kg judo), Moira de Villiers (women's 70kg judo), men's rugby sevens team, Lauren Boyle (women's 800m freestyle), Sam Gaze (mountain biking), Stanislav Chalaev (men's 105kg weightlifting), para bowls open triples - Lynda Bennett, Barry Wynks and Mark Noble,
BRONZE - 15
Zane Robertson (5000m), Eddie Dawkins (individual sprint), Aaron Gate (men's 40km points race), men's team pursuit cycling - Marc Ryan, Pieter Bulling, Dylan Kennett, Shane Archbold, Marc Ryan (men's individual pursuit), Matthew Archibald (1km time trial), Jason Koster (men's 100kg judo), Tim Slyfield (men's 100kg judo), Darcina Manuel (women's 57kg judo), women's fours bowls - Selina Goddard, Amy McIlroy, Mandy Boyd, Val Smith, Joelle King (women's singles squash), Tayla Ford (women's 58kg wrestling), Sam Belkin (men's 97kg wrestling), Tracey Lambrechs (women's 75kg+ weightlifting), David Bishop (men's floor gymnastics)