An Olympics Games for NZ to savour

The scene at the Olympic Stadium as the closing ceremony gets started.
The scene at the Olympic Stadium as the closing ceremony gets started.
New Zealand medalists from London 2012 gather for a photo-op at the Olympic village.
New Zealand medalists from London 2012 gather for a photo-op at the Olympic village.
Black Sticks striker Phil Burrows gets a rub on the head from Belgium goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch.
Black Sticks striker Phil Burrows gets a rub on the head from Belgium goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch.
Kayaking champion Lisa Carrington shows off her gold medal and New Zealand flag-painted nails.
Kayaking champion Lisa Carrington shows off her gold medal and New Zealand flag-painted nails.
Members of Team USA Anthony Davis, Kevin Love and James Harden celebrate the USA's gold medal win over Spain.
Members of Team USA Anthony Davis, Kevin Love and James Harden celebrate the USA's gold medal win over Spain.
A dejected Samantha Harrison sits alone after the Black Sticks' bronze-playoff loss to Great Britain.
A dejected Samantha Harrison sits alone after the Black Sticks' bronze-playoff loss to Great Britain.
New Zealand's first female Olympic kayaking champion Lisa Carrington celebrates with champagne with her brother Brett.
New Zealand's first female Olympic kayaking champion Lisa Carrington celebrates with champagne with her brother Brett.
Mountainbiker Karen Hanlen competes on the final day of competition.
Mountainbiker Karen Hanlen competes on the final day of competition.
Sarah Walker in black, on her way to a silver medal in the BMX.
Sarah Walker in black, on her way to a silver medal in the BMX.
Bulgarian gymnasts during their rhythmic gymnastics qualifying routine.
Bulgarian gymnasts during their rhythmic gymnastics qualifying routine.
Great Britain's Mo Farah celebrates after completing the 5000m-10,000m double.
Great Britain's Mo Farah celebrates after completing the 5000m-10,000m double.
Gold medallist Lisa Carrington gives a thumbs up for her performance.
Gold medallist Lisa Carrington gives a thumbs up for her performance.
A dejected Nick Willis cuts a lonely figure after the 1500m final.
A dejected Nick Willis cuts a lonely figure after the 1500m final.
A line of ducks heads across the Hyde Park pond as the women's triathlon field approaches.
A line of ducks heads across the Hyde Park pond as the women's triathlon field approaches.
Valerie Adams gets a hug from coach Jean-Pierre Egger after the shot-put final.
Valerie Adams gets a hug from coach Jean-Pierre Egger after the shot-put final.
Competitors exit the 1.5km swim leg of the men's triathlon at Hyde Park.
Competitors exit the 1.5km swim leg of the men's triathlon at Hyde Park.
New Zealand's Brent Newdick launches himself into the long jump pit during the decathlon event.
New Zealand's Brent Newdick launches himself into the long jump pit during the decathlon event.
Usain Bolt tells his critics to be quiet as he completes the 100m-200m double in London.
Usain Bolt tells his critics to be quiet as he completes the 100m-200m double in London.
New Zealand's Logan Campbell (red) launches a kick during his first round loss to Hryhorii Husarov of Ukraine.
New Zealand's Logan Campbell (red) launches a kick during his first round loss to Hryhorii Husarov of Ukraine.
Simon van Velthooven reacts after taking bronze in the men's keirin.
Simon van Velthooven reacts after taking bronze in the men's keirin.
Australia's Sally Pearson reacts after her world record time in winning the women's 100m hurdles.
Australia's Sally Pearson reacts after her world record time in winning the women's 100m hurdles.
An ecstatic Pimenta Fernando (right) and Emanuel Silva of Portugal after taking silver in the men's K2 500m event.
An ecstatic Pimenta Fernando (right) and Emanuel Silva of Portugal after taking silver in the men's K2 500m event.
Gold medalist Eric Murray gets some love from his one-year-old son Zac.
Gold medalist Eric Murray gets some love from his one-year-old son Zac.
New Zealand's medal-winning rowers form a pyramid of success.
New Zealand's medal-winning rowers form a pyramid of success.
The New Zealand men's track pursuit team powers around the London velodrome.
The New Zealand men's track pursuit team powers around the London velodrome.
Eric Murray wipes a tear from his eye as he and Hamish Bond listen to the national anthem after winning gold.
Eric Murray wipes a tear from his eye as he and Hamish Bond listen to the national anthem after winning gold.
New Zealand's Alexis Pritchard cops a punch to the side of the head from Tunisia's Rim Jouini.
New Zealand's Alexis Pritchard cops a punch to the side of the head from Tunisia's Rim Jouini.
Mike Dawson competes in the canoe slalom.
Mike Dawson competes in the canoe slalom.
Sarah Gregorius of the Football Ferns reacts after missing a goal opportunity against Great Britain.
Sarah Gregorius of the Football Ferns reacts after missing a goal opportunity against Great Britain.
Fireworks explode around the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony of the London Games.
Fireworks explode around the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony of the London Games.

London called. New Zealand answered emphatically. Roll on Rio. It might sound trite to sum up this year's most significant sporting event in three short sentences.

But such is the New Zealand sporting psyche - admit it, we're only happy when there's something to whinge about - London was in that sense an unmitigated disaster.

It was packed with triumph, athletes unafraid to revel in their success, and a new New Zealand eager to live vicariously through their deeds (perhaps after learning how to only a few short months before during Rugby World Cup).

New Zealand's London 2012 Olympic medallists. Four of the equestrian team are absent due to their competition schedule.
New Zealand's London 2012 Olympic medallists. Four of the equestrian team are absent due to their competition schedule.
New Zealand's gold medallists from London 2012, minus Valerie Adams.
New Zealand's gold medallists from London 2012, minus Valerie Adams.
A close up of the London 2012 gold medal, and some patriotic nail art.
A close up of the London 2012 gold medal, and some patriotic nail art.
BMX silver medallist Sarah Walker with gold medal winning kayaker Lisa Carrington.
BMX silver medallist Sarah Walker with gold medal winning kayaker Lisa Carrington.
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke with their silver medals.
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke with their silver medals.
The sailors pose for a photo with their medals.
The sailors pose for a photo with their medals.
The champagne flows for New Zealand's Olympic medallists.
The champagne flows for New Zealand's Olympic medallists.
Bronze medallists Rebecca Scown and Juliette Haigh.
Bronze medallists Rebecca Scown and Juliette Haigh.

One hundred eighty four New Zealanders - 97 men and 87 - women - competed.

Some fizzed and failed, others froze and some even looked out of their depth.

But the vast majority more the fulfilled what were lofty pre-Games expectations and most people brook the argument this was New Zealand's greatest Games ever.

Gold medalists from left: Eric Murray, Mahe Drysdale and Hamish Bond carry bronze medalist Juliette Haigh near Eton Dorney, London.
Gold medalists from left: Eric Murray, Mahe Drysdale and Hamish Bond carry bronze medalist Juliette Haigh near Eton Dorney, London.
Andrej Synek (Cze) and Alan Campbell (GBR) hold up New Zealand's gold medal winner Mahe Drysdale after the medal ceremony.
Andrej Synek (Cze) and Alan Campbell (GBR) hold up New Zealand's gold medal winner Mahe Drysdale after the medal ceremony.
Mahe Drysdale relaxes with a well earned burger after scoring the rowing gold.
Mahe Drysdale relaxes with a well earned burger after scoring the rowing gold.
Eric Murray with his son Zac after winning the gold.
Eric Murray with his son Zac after winning the gold.
New Zealand rowing pair of Hamish Bond and Eric Murray celebrate their gold medals.
New Zealand rowing pair of Hamish Bond and Eric Murray celebrate their gold medals.
Eric Murray show the relief after winning gold in the men's pair at Eton Dorney.
Eric Murray show the relief after winning gold in the men's pair at Eton Dorney.
Hamish Bond and Eric Murray celebrate after winning gold in the men's pair at Eton Dorney.
Hamish Bond and Eric Murray celebrate after winning gold in the men's pair at Eton Dorney.
Eric Murray show the relief after winning gold in the men's pair at Eton Dorney.
Eric Murray show the relief after winning gold in the men's pair at Eton Dorney.
Mahe Drysdale wins gold in his final in the men's single sculls at Eton Dorney.
Mahe Drysdale wins gold in his final in the men's single sculls at Eton Dorney.
Mahe Drysdale feels the agony once more but with gold this time at the London Olympics 2012.
Mahe Drysdale feels the agony once more but with gold this time at the London Olympics 2012.
Eric Murray celebrates after winning gold in the men's pair at Eton Dorney.
Eric Murray celebrates after winning gold in the men's pair at Eton Dorney.
New Zealand rowing pair of Hamish Bond and Eric Murray celebrate their gold medals.
New Zealand rowing pair of Hamish Bond and Eric Murray celebrate their gold medals.
Mahe Drysdale feels the agony once more but with gold this time at the London Olympics 2012.
Mahe Drysdale feels the agony once more but with gold this time at the London Olympics 2012.
Hamish Bond and Eric Murray celebrate after winning gold in the men's pair at Eton Dorney.
Hamish Bond and Eric Murray celebrate after winning gold in the men's pair at Eton Dorney.
Hamish Bond and Eric Murray celebrate after winning gold in the men's pair at Eton Dorney.
Hamish Bond and Eric Murray celebrate after winning gold in the men's pair at Eton Dorney.
Hamish Bond and Eric Murray are congratulated by the Great Britain rowers after winning gold in the men's pair at Eton Dorney.
Hamish Bond and Eric Murray are congratulated by the Great Britain rowers after winning gold in the men's pair at Eton Dorney.

The team won 13 medals equalling the record haul set in 1992.

Six of them were gold. While that fell short of the eight gold medals won in 1984, when several Eastern bloc countries boycotted the Games, it still represented a triumph in an age when money talks in sport, and New Zealand still, comparatively speaking, competes on the proverbial smell of an oily rag.

Eton Dorney proved the Kiwi team's happiest hunting ground, and for many Eric Murray and Hamish Bond's exploits in the pair were the highlight of the sporting jamboree.

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).
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).

The sweep oarsmen were relentless in their pursuit of gold, demoralising their opponents in the four years leading up to the Games, and then rubbing their faces in it by producing a world record time in the final which they won emphatically.

The cool and calm Bond and the more flamboyant Murray were an odd and strangely endearing couple on and off the water.

Yet their differences in body shape and personality always seemed in equilibrium.

A nation sat in a state of shock and anguish when Mahe Drysdale's Games campaign came unstuck four years ago in Beijing.

Drysdale succumbed to the ravaging effects of food poisoning in the throes of the single scull final.

His gutsy performance winning bronze made him the sentimental favourite for many in London and he overcame a pre-Games cycling accident to dominate the field and win gold.

Both crews were actually upstaged by double Joseph Sullivan and Nathan Cohen who unexpectedly won gold the day before the pair and Drysdale which capped off a excellent effort by our rowers.

So, we had our heroes. Next up was supposed to be our heroine, Val Adams.

Instead New Zealand came face-to-face with a villain in the form of Nadzeya Ostapchuk, who we now infamously know beat Adams in the shot put final, but was stripped of her gold medal the day after the closing ceremony when the IOC revealed she was a drugs cheat.

It was a joyful end to a frustrating Games for Adams, whose thinly veiled contempt for the New Zealand Olympic Committee became an open and festering wound when they forgot to enter her in her event.

If that wasn't bad enough the saga was further soured when Chef de Mission Dave Currie and NZOC secretary general Kereyn Smith failed to take responsibility for the bungle and instead blamed a non-descript backroom staffer as the culprit.

Fortunately the Games ended on a far more memorable note when Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie sailed their 470 dinghy nicknamed Muppet to victory in the medal race in Weymouth.

New Zealand's final gold came from, where else, Eaton Dorney, when Lisa Carrington, the 23-year-old from Ohope Beach, stormed to victory in the inaugural K1 200 to give her country its first women's Olympic gold medal in sprint canoeing.

There were of course other medals of different hue, equalling inspiring and meritorious.

Sarah Walker won silver in the BMX, as did Peter Burling and Blair Tuke in sailing's 49er class and we also won five bronze medals: the team equestrian category, the rowing men's lightweight double sculls and women's pair, bike's male team pursuit and Simon van Velthooven in the men's keirin.

That saw New Zealand finish 15th  on the medal table ahead of far larger nations such as Spain and Brazil.

Host nation Great Britain finish third with a massive 29 golds and also won acclaim for they way they staged and supported the event.

The Games were a mix of Cool Britannia, pomp, pageantry and chest-beating nationalistic fervour.

From the opening ceremony scene of Danny Boyle's Green and Pleasant land to the closing ceremony bash, the event went off without a hitch.

Stars like Usain Bolt shone and New Zealand had its moment in the sun. Poor old Rio. What an act to follow.

A good year for: Our Olympic gold medallists who each take home $60,000 each year fro the next four years to fund their road to Rio.

A bad year for: Dave Currie. Retired as NZOC chef de mission in disgrace. Successor Rob Waddell's appointment came not a moment too soon.

Crystal ball gazing: Val Adams to continue her world domination and win her third gold in Rio. 

Fairfax Media