NZ athletes in race for Games medal No 600

MARK GEENTY IN GLASGOW
Last updated 17:06 30/07/2014
Lauren Boyle
ROBERT KITCHIN/Fairfax NZ Zoom
New Zealand's Lauren Boyle celebrates after winning gold in the women's 400m freestyle.

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Glasgow city is bursting at the seams as the Commonwealth Games roars towards closing weekend.

So, too, is New Zealand's medal knapsack as it stretches to breaking point as their flagbearer prepares to stride into the Hampden Park shot put circle at 7.40am tomorrow (NZ time).

Valerie Adams arrived in Glasgow as New Zealand's best gold medal chance - and barring sudden injury or illness - will stroll to her 54th successive competitive victory, adding to her golds from Melbourne and Delhi.

Such was the speed of New Zealand's haul in recent days, spearheaded by 13 medals from the men on bikes, that their second-most successful Commonwealth Games beckoned.

At close of play on day six, New Zealand had moved into fifth on the medal table with 31 (11 gold, nine silver, 11 bronze), six behind the hosts, but ahead of India, South Africa and Jamaica.

They would sail past their haul of 36 from Delhi four years ago, and would seriously threaten the 45 medals (11 gold) won in Manchester 12 years ago.

The country's only better tally was in Auckland in 1990, where 58 medals (17 gold) were placed around New Zealanders' necks, while Victoria in 1994 (41 medals, five gold) featured the other 40-plus haul.

Then there's the question of No 600. New Zealand's 35th medal at these Games would raise the milestone and there remained a chance Adams could be the fitting recipient.

It could be a tight race. Around the time Adams would enter the throwing circle, other New Zealanders with legitimate medal claims were competing. They were an eclectic bunch including weightlifter Stanislav Chalaev, a Delhi silver medallist, wrestler Tayla Ford and diver Li Feng Yan.

In coming days the medal flow should continue, with the Silver Ferns netballers and the Black Sticks men and women all on track to climb the podium at the weekend. All have the Australians as their major hurdle to gold.

At Hampden Park, most interest would centre on Nick Willis' 1500m bid on Sunday while Delhi silver medallist Stuart Farquhar (javelin), Siositina Hakeai (ranked fourth in the Commonwealth in discus), 800m runner Angie Smit and high jumper Sarah Cowley were all in medal contention.

The cycling time trial tomorrow night has potential for two medals, with Linda Villumsen a huge chance and Jesse Sergent in excellent time trial form in Europe.

Others with legitimate medal claims included the boxers, with Hamilton teenager David Nyika the most impressive to date and guaranteed at least bronze, squash mixed doubles pair Joelle King and Martin Knight, looking to emulate their Delhi silver, and the bowlers who already have two medals and were looking strong via Shannon McIlroy and women's pair Val Smith and Jo Edwards.

On medals won, the report card to date provided a definite pass mark.

The BikeNZ team plundered, topped off by teenage pair Anton Cooper and Sam Gaze's explosive one-two on the mountainbike track today.

Backed by hefty high performance annual funding of $4.3 million, the cyclists flew and the sprint team were the potential rock stars of Rio for New Zealand.

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Judo has punched well above their collective weight for New Zealand too with five medals.

Disappointments have been the well funded triathletes who went medal-less when two beckoned, and the swimmers whose performance was brightened by para-swimmer Sophie Pascoe's double gold and Lauren Boyle's 400m redemption on the final night.

The athletics was barely halfway through, but the decathlon provided a low point and put the spotlight on the selection process.

Scott McLaren was selected for his first Commonwealth Games at 32, carrying a heel injury and with little competitive buildup. He withdrew before the end of day one.

Delhi silver medallist Brent Newdick, another originally picked subject to fitness, injured his foot during the high jump and withdrew after seven events.

KIWI MEDALS SO FAR

GOLD - 11

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)

SILVER - 9

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)

BRONZE - 11

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)

- Stuff

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