Yachties win NZ's 100th Olympic medal

FRED WOODCOCK IN WEYMOUTH
Last updated 06:14 09/08/2012
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke
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PROUD DAY: Peter Burling and Blair Tuke pose with their silver medals.

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Fittingly, New Zealand's 100th Olympic medal winners Peter Burling and Blair Tuke have received their silver medal from one of the country's greatest Olympians.

The 49 class sailors secured their medal two days ago but had to wait until after today's medal race to be officially awarded the silverware, the delay meaning they became recipients of New Zealand's 100th medal.

Their medals were presented by former New Zealand boardsailing great and three-time Olympic medallist Barbara Kendall, now a member of the International Olympic Committee.

Kendall won gold at Barcelona in 1992, which also happened to be the last time New Zealand won a medal in any sailing class other than windsurfing.


Burling, 21, and Tuke, 23, have broken that drought, and they did it emphatically.

"I saw Barbara last night and she said she was hanging around until Wednesday, and then she said she was handing out some medals so I put two and two together," said Tuke, with a New Zealand flag draped around his shoulders.

"It's awesome. We have had a lot to do with her and she's an amazing New Zealander. To have her give us the medals is awesome."

Kendall said the fact she had presented New Zealand's 100th medal was "just a fluke".

"I requested the 49er medal ceremony and I had a feeling the boys might do well, but how cool is it that it's the 100th," she said.

"Obviously the Southern Cross stars have aligned, and it's just nice for the boys to receive their medals from someone they know."

Tuke said he read on the internet this morning that he and skipper Burling were probably going to be New Zealand's 100th Olympic medal winners.

"I didn't know what events were on today. When we got ashore, the guys said we were.

"It's just amazing. So many great people have won medals for New Zealand in the past and to be alongside them is pretty special.

"To be the actual 100th ones is quite crazy. We are quite proud."

Their medal is NZ's 19th Olympic silver to go with 40 golds and 41 bronzes.

Tuke said it was a "really weird" feeling having secured the silver two days ago and turning up for the medal race with nothing on the line. They still sailed well, finishing second. Gold medallists Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen of Australia were fourth, while Denmark claimed the bronze medal by finishing third.

"We didn't think we would have it locked in two days ago. We had a couple of celebrations that night but today is going to be a lot better. It's starting to sink in."

Burling said it was nice to have a tangible reward for four years of hard work, and he again paid tribute to their training partners, Outteridge and Jensen, for helping to lift their standard above the rest of the world.

Their medal sees the New Zealand Olympic team reach High Performance Sport New Zealand's rather conservative medal target of 10 medals for these Games, with realistic medal chances still to come in BMX, canoe sprinting, women's hockey and sailing.

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 New Zealand's Games squad went to London with a total of 90 medals earned during the history of summer and winter Olympics.

With nine medals garnered by our rowers, equestrian riders, track cyclists and the silver from Val Adams, Burling and Tuke were the first Kiwi sailors to strike a medal and therefore bring up the ton.

The effort conveniently diverts attention from the Australians finally passing New Zealand on the medal table after a big night in the cycling velodrome and London Stadium where they gained gold medals via Anna Meares and Sally Pearson.

- Stuff

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