Kiwi medallists get together to show metal

MARC HINTON IN LONDON
Last updated 05:00 14/08/2012
NZ gold medalists
LAWRENCE SMITH/Fairfax NZ

BLING BLING: New Zealand's gold medalists (rear): Joseph Sullivan and Nathan Cohen (double sculls), Mahe Drysdale (single sculls), Eric Murray and Hamish Bond (pair), and (front), Polly Powrie (women's 470), Lisa Carrington (K1 200m) and Jo Aleh (women's 470).

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There was more bling than you could shake a stick at as New Zealand's Olympic medallists gathered for one last photo op before hitting the closing ceremony.

There it was hanging from their well-toned necks, precious metal of all colours - gold, silver and bronze. Gleaming in the sun, this collection of special jewellery told the story of a job well done.

It reflected the success of these Games for a squad that won more golds than ever before, bar the boycott-reduced 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, and equalled the previous record medal haul from 1988 in Seoul with 13.

And as this special group of athletes gathered to share their collective moment, there was a definite feeling of satisfaction in the air. This is the Olympics, nothing comes easy, and every success must be treasured for the beautiful thing it is.

Canoe sprinter Lisa Carrington, the last of the five gold medal winners to do her thing, was still coming to terms with her golden moment at Eton Dorney.

Although two hugely sought-after tickets to the men's basketball final had helped make up for the fact that, unlike her rowing counterparts, she'd had only the final day to let her hair down at these Games.

"Being one of the last competing sports, I haven't been able to see anything, apart from the rowing," New Zealand sport's latest glamour girl said. "But this helps, because everyone wants to go to the basketball final."

Carrington had been cool as a cucumber before, during and after her brilliant K1 200m campaign, but she said following in the wake of the rowers had helped.

"I got there on the Wednesday and saw all their finals. That was cool and it made it all a bit more real. I got to hold Joseph [Sullivan]'s gold medal before I raced, and now I've got my own it's a lot sweeter."

Gold medal rower Eric Murray, one half of the perfect pair, said he'd had a great second week as a spectator, and had been particularly impressed with the BMX.

"The best part of being a first-week sport is we get to support some of the other athletes after we finish. I loved the BMX - it's an amazing sport. I know we've got a track in Cambridge and I might have to go down and give it a whirl."

Gold medal sailors Polly Powrie and Jo Aleh were just happy to be able to share their excitement with the rest of the Kiwi athletes after being based in Weymouth for most of the Games.

"It's pretty overwhelming to come up and see everyone and to really feel part of what the whole team's done," Powrie said.

Aleh said: "This is great for New Zealand and we're just so happy we could be part of it."

New Zealand Olympic Committee secretary-general Kereyn Smith said the Kiwi Games effort had been a resounding success by any measurement.

"In terms of the results, the medals, it's been fantastic. The quality of those results is special. And the really encouraging thing for the future is the number of performances in that four-to-eight bracket - we've had 21 sitting in there. It's about targeting and it's about preparation.

"We've now got athletes coming to their first Olympics and medalling, not just that but gold medalling.

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"You do that through preparation, planning and understanding the environment."

The Kiwi team flew out of London overnight. Most will arrive in Auckland tomorrow.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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