Tears of joy as pin-up boy Nyika grabs gold

KIWI BOXER: David Nyika.
KIWI BOXER: David Nyika.

David Nyika broke his rival's heart - and stole his country's.

The handsome Hamilton teenager provided the defining moment of New Zealand's participation on the penultimate day of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow yesterday.

As the last strains of God Defend New Zealand rang out, the 18-year-old - wrapped in his New Zealand tracksuit, gold medal hung around his neck - wept tears of joy.

David Nyika
David Nyika

It was a show of emotion that would have made Kiwi women swoon.

"I just let it go . . . it was inevitable," Nyika said of his tears.

The images will become part of this country's Games folklore.

TEARS OF JOY: David Nyika tears up on the medal dais after winning gold in the light heavyweight final.
TEARS OF JOY: David Nyika tears up on the medal dais after winning gold in the light heavyweight final.

Nyika stunned a raucous 10,000-strong crowd and disbelieving opponent Kennedy St Pierre, of Mauritius, in the men's light heavyweight (81kg) final, winning a unanimous points decision that didn't find favour with the fans.

St Pierre threw a bunch of bombs at the long, lithe-limbed Kiwi, who bobbed and weaved his way out of trouble.

When his arm was raised, the boos were loud and long. But Nyika cared little for their disdain.

"It was more than a wee tear," he said of his podium moment - the first Commonwealth Games boxing gold for a New Zealander in 24 years.

"I've got a lot of pride for my country and I just wanted to give the people something to cheer for.

"It's the people that give me the boost when I need it. It's a lonely sport and I couldn't thank everybody enough for being behind me every step of the way."

While his rival failed to land many punches on Nyika, the piano-playing teen said he's been bombarded with messages of support from home while he had his family ringside.

"Absolutely - I couldn't thank them enough for getting me where I needed to be. They've given me this opportunity to chase my dreams. When I started boxing, my mum wasn't too sure about it," he said. She was a little hard to warm up to the idea of me being in a combat sport.

"I'm just so glad that she's come around and is fully supportive of my dreams and my goals."

With additional reporting from Matt Richens