NZ's London Olympics performance review

Last updated 05:00 12/08/2012
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IAIN MCGREGOR/Fairfax NZ

MOVE TO AN EIGHT? London Olympians Hamish Bond, Mahe Drysdale and Eric Murray.

Opinion poll

What was your favourite Kiwi gold medal from these Olympics?

Mahe Drysdale

Hamish Bond and Eric Murray

Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan

Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie

Lisa Carrington

Vote Result

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How did our top sports fare at the Games?  Fairfax Media's team in London run the rule over who did and didn't aim up.

HOCKEY

Expectation: The Black Sticks women were expected to finish close to their world ranking of No 6 and the Black Sticks men were seen as the tournament dark horse and very capable of finishing above their world ranking of No 7.

Actual performance: The women exceeded expectations, coming within a whisker of making the final. It was a shame some of the gloss was taken from their campaign when they turned in a flat performance in the bronze medal match. The stars of their campaign were captain Kayla Sharland and goalkeeper Bianca Russell while two potential stars of the future emerged in Stacey Michelsen and Samantha Charlton. The men looked slow, old and lacking in belief. The fact they wound up ninth is embarrassing and expect some fallout. Coach Shane McLeod has already signallled he is stepping down and a couple of senior players might be under pressure to retain ther place.

Mark out of 10: 8 for the women and 2 for the men.  Hockey got $7 million in the four year cycle up to London. The women are young and deserve the lion's share of the new funding package. - Jonathan Millmow

CYCLING

Expectation: Four medals across road, track, mountainbike and BMX, a target set back in 2008 when the high performance programme was established. With riders ranked in the world's top-five across nine events, BikeNZ's expectation was for a 50 per cent strike rate to translate to medals.

Actual performance: Three medals, to the men's pursuit team, Simon van Velthooven and Sarah Walker represents a satisfactory return, with Karen Hanlen still to line up in the mountainbiking early today. And with Linda Villumsen an agonising 1.8 seconds off bronze in the time trial, the target was so nearly achieved. BMXer Marc Willers looked a good medal bet but a split-second error ended his Games, Jack Bauer rode out of his skin for 10th in the road race and the women's pursuiters and men's sprint team each rode personal bests in finishing fifth.

Mark out of 10: 7.5. They were thereabouts with their medal target and the future looks bright, despite the dominance of Great Britain. Van Velthooven is a star in the making and won't have Sir Chris Hoy to contend with in the keirin in Rio de Janeiro. Villumsen will also be back for redemption in Rio where some of her main rivals will also have retired. Coaches talk of impressive depth in the young track ranks. The $18.3 million BikeNZ received in Olympic funding, second only to rowing, appears to be gradually paying off and with the new Cambridge velodrome soon to be completed, 2016 can be eyed with confidence. - Mark Geenty

SAILING

Expectation: Two medals, given sailing was the third-best funded Olympic sport in the last cycle with $11.3 million in taxpayer money, and most crews to finish in top-10.
Actual performance: They got the two medals, through the two leading contenders. Gold to Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie in the women's 470 and silver to Peter Burling and Blair Tuke in the 49er skiff. Also, three 5ths, two 7ths and a 9th from nine crews.

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Mark (out of 10): 7.5. Very good regatta for the Kiwis. Flurry of top 10s and two well deserved medals, one gold. Another medal would have made it a great one. Met expectations which is not always easy and broke a 20-year medal drought in non-boardsailing classes. Medallists were two young crews in early to mid-20s which is promising and no reason why they won't be again well funded for Rio. - Fred Woodcock

SWIMMING

Expectation: Despite being one of the biggest swimming squads New Zealand has ever sent to an Olympic Games, expectations were still very low with Lauren Boyle, Glenn Snyders and Gareth Kean the only ones expected to be near the medal mix.

Performance: In the end, Boyle was excellent, finishing fourth in the 800m final, eighth in the 400m final and recording three national records. Snyders also lowered two national standards but failed to back-up in semifinals to give himself a chance. But that's as far as it goes, the rest spanned disappointing to very poor. Personal bests were very thin on the ground with most swimming faster in March's Auckland trials than at the main event. Some, even, were faster two years ago the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

Mark (out of 10):  3.  In the four-year cycle since Beijing, swimming's high performance programme and its athletes have received $7,475,796 in government funding (compared to biggest-hitter rowing at $19.1m). Those figures must now be in danger. The squad is too large, standards need raising and money needs to go further among athletes that truly deserve it. Boyle, at 24, is the swimmer who must be given the opportunity to break through onto the Olympic podium. - Simon Plumb

ROWING

Expectation: There was a ton of it on this squad packed full of world champions and top performers at World Cup level. None more so than on the men's pair who needed to sign off on four years of uber-dominance and single-sculler Mahe Drysdale who by his own admission was on a mission of Olympic redemption.  And, being the most funded sport of the Olympic cycle ($19 million), the onus was on to deliver.

Actual performance: Deliver they did. Three gold medals and two bronzes represents a fabulous, and historic, haul for the Kiwis who were the only nation to consistently challenge the Brits at Eton Dorney. The pair delivered in the style we all expected, Drysdale was pure class as he gutsed it out for that Olympic redemption and the double sculls of Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan served up the all-important third gold via their trademark sizzling finish. The women's pair and men's lightweight double added the bronzes.

Mark (out of 10):  9.  The rowers became our rocks stars of these Games. They are the faces of Kiwi Olympic success, and what excellent ones they were. Having said that rowing only met its own expectations, and you could make a case that they may even have been a medal short. But three golds cancels that out. They've been well funded, but must now demand even more to cash in on this success and keep the big names on board for another four years. Another priority is making sure coach Dick Tonks has whatever he needs to stay in his role. - Marc Hinton

TRIATHLON

Expectation: One medal from Andrea Hewitt but the flat spectator friendly course was dead against her so in the circumstances her sixth placing was respectable.  "On a flat course and the way they were running, that was my place to come," a resigned Hewitt said.

Performance: Wellington's Kate McIlroy was the success story with her 10th placing. Two top 10 placing in the women's race was satisfactory. The men were never considered medal contenders so the 12th and 15th placings by 35 year-old's Bevan Docherty and Kris Gemmell, respectively, were about right.

Mark (out of 10):  6. Triathlon got $7 million in the four year cycle up to London. It was hoped Hewitt would repay that level of funding with a medal. Docherty is finished now, but there are high hopes for 24 year-old Ryan Sissons, who was 33rd in London. - Jonathan Millmow

EQUESTRIAN

Expectation: A medal of any variety, whether it be team or individual, given the class and experience of guys like Mark Todd and Andrew Nicholson.

Actual Performance: Medal achieved, through a thoroughly deserved team bronze. Nicholson came agonisingly close to individual bronze, finishing fourth, while the ageless Todd was third leading into the final day. An individual/team double would have been nice but we can't complain with team bronze, especially after a two-Games hiatus since Todd's bronze in Sydney. They met targets, both internally and from funding agencies.

Mark (out of 10):  7.5.  The sport only received $4.2 million in last Olympic cycle but with world No 1 Nicholson aiming for Rio, and hugely talented young blood such as world No 3 Jock Paget, Clarke Johnstone, Jonelle Richards and Lucy Jackson, they should perhaps be given some of swimming's money. - Fred Woodock

TRACK AND FIELD

Expectation: Hopes were tempered by how tough the competition was but Val Adams and Nick Willis were rated definite medal chances.  There were also hopes for Kim Smith.

Actual performance: We all know what happened with Val and then Willis ran out of juice after a powerful semi. Smith threatened during the marathon but ultimately slipped back. There was some upside.  Decathlete Brent Newdick showed ongoing maturity and Smith enough guts to suggest she'll come again. Young middle distance racer Lucy Van Dalen also impressed in her first Olympics campaign.   

Mark (out of 10):  5. It could have been oh so different had Adams gained gold and Willis featured in the kick to the line for 1500m glory. - Marc Hinton

- © Fairfax NZ News

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