Honours and medals bring us pride and distinction

Ravi Nyayapati – 

As we approach Christmas, it brings to an end yet another successful year for New Zealand sport.

By population, New Zealand is ranked 123rd in the world.

It is remarkable that we finished 19th on the medal table.

This was New Zealand’s best performance at an Olympics event, with a tally of 18 medals, well surpassing the 13 medals won at London in 2012 and at Seoul in 1998.

Kiwi legends

Many Kiwi legends made their mark at the games.

In Men’s Rowing, Coxless Pair Hamish Bond and Eric Murray took their domination to a new level. They backed up their London gold by finishing top again, to add to their six consecutive World Rowing Championship titles.

Mahé Drysdale lived up to the expectations to grab gold in the incredibly close Men’s single sculls, whereas poster girl Lisa Carrington continued her masterclass from London to claim yet another gold, along with a silver.

The dynamic Men’s 49er Sailing pair of Peter Burling and Blair Tuke also brought home the top medal.

Magical moments

Legendary Valerie Adams had to settle for a silver after a very late challenge from her American counterpart but wrote herself into the history books with three medals from three games.

Rio also witnessed the crowning of all-time Olympic King Michael Phelps, who grabbed a jaw-dropping 28th Olympic medal.

Jamaican Usain Bolt further created magic by winning an unprecedented triple-triple in the track.

Although short of their target of 18 medals, the Kiwi Para Olympians also set a new record with a tally of 13, comprising three golds.

Nelson sprinter Liam Malone rose to stardom by winning two gold medals.

Malone smashed the 400m record set by the now infamous Blade Runner Oscar Pistorius.

Barring a slip-up in Chicago against the Irish, the mighty All Blacks also expectedly bulldozed their way past the rest setting a record of 18 victories in a row.  They are so good that a loss against any team brings a sense of disbelief.

Individual Sports

New Zealanders pursuing glory in individual sports also had a memorable year.

Teenager Lydia Ko started 2016 where she left off from 2015 winning the New Zealand Women’s Open for the third time in four years.

On the professional Tour, Ko won the Kia Classic in March and a week later, earned two consecutive major titles by winning the ANA Inspiration.

The wins cemented her position as No 1 in the world as she became the youngest double major winner in the history of the game since Tom Morris in 1869.

Ko added two more victories on the LPGA Tour at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship and Marathon Classic, before earning a silver for the country at the Rio games.

Box sets record

Boxer Joseph Parker claimed the World Boxing Organisation heavyweight title last week by going twelve rounds against American-Mexican Andy Ruiz Jr for the vacant title.  In the process, he became the first heavyweight boxer from New Zealand to win a major world championship.

Professional boxing website BoxRec now rates Parker as the world’s fifth best heavyweight boxer.

Shot putter Adams’ half-brother Steven Adams created waves in the National Basketball Association (NBA) with his speed, agility and towering personality, playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

In October this year, within three years of being in the Thunder NBA draft, he signed a $100 million contract extension with the Thunder.

Development focus

New Zealand has a strong focus on development of sports at grass roots levels, with the right support at professional level, giving players a perfect platform to excel.

It is not long before we see members of Indian diaspora shining as proud New Zealanders at global events.

Ravi Nyayapati is our expert commentator on a number of sports. He is also the Chairman of the independent Panel of Judges for the Indian Newslink Indian Sports Awards.

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