Fiji gets its first gold; USA in the lead; India yet to score
Fiji’s long wait for an Olympic gold was over on August 12 when the South Pacific nation delivered an emphatic, bruising 43-7 defeat of Great Britain.
Fijians in their home country and those living overseas including New Zealand and Australia have cause to celebrate as the little nation continues to rise in the world of Rugby, with its diehard fans evincing interest equal to that of soccer.
The 2016 Summer Olympics got off to a colourful start on August 5 at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Former Brazilian long distance runner Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima lit the Olympics flame to declare the Rio 2016 games open.
More than 11,000 athletes from 205 countries are competing in 42 sports disciplines across 37 venues in Brazil.
USA, China battle
In the first week of the games, it was America and China vying for the top position on the leader’s board.
Thirty-one-year old swimmer Michael Phelps has led the American charge with two gold medals already. The most successful Olympian of all time has extended his career tally to a total of 25 medals, including two silver and two bronze.
The flag-bearer for his nation at Rio, Phelps came out of retirement last year to represent his country to spectacular results.
China has done well in the sports of Weightlifting and Diving.
For New Zealand, the start has been a mixed bag.
Hamish Bond and Eric Murray won the first gold for New Zealand at the games in Rowing. With this win, the men’s coxless pair extended their unbeaten streak to 69 races at 24 international regattas.
Team New Zealand also won silver in theMen’s Team Sprint Track Cycling Luuka Jones from Tauranga won the Olympic silver medal in the canoe slalom.
Natalie Rooney from Timaru won silver in the woman’s trap shooting event.
Rio 2016 was 28-year-old Natalie’s first Olympics, having narrowly missed out on a place in the London 2012 Team.
Rugby Sevens made its debut at the games and much was expected out of the Kiwi teams. The women’s team lead by Sarah Goss won a Silver medal, losing 24-17 to pre-tournament favourites Australia in the finals.
It was a commendable performance by a group of athletes who were all a part of a programme launched by High Performance Sport New Zealand nearly four years ago to compete in the Olympics.
The men’s team, led by Scott Curry had a disappointing campaign. After losing star forward Sonny Bill Williams in the opening game against Japan, the team lost 12-7 to Fiji in the quarterfinals.
Hopes are now pinned on Golfer Lydia Ko and Kayaker Lisa Carrington to help New Zealand win more medals for New Zealand at Rio.
Shooter Abhinav Bindra was India’s flag bearer at Rio, and came agonisingly close to winning the first medal for India. Abhinav bid adieu to his final Olympics appearance by ending fourth in the final of the Men’s 10 m air rifle event – missing out on a bronze medal by just 0.1 points.
Indian Tennis also has had a bad run at Rio.
Leander Paes playing his seventh Olympic games partnering Rohan Bopanna lost in the first round of the men’s doubles.
Sania Mirza, who partnered Prarthana Thombare also lost in the first round of the women’s doubles.
In other surprising results, top Tennis players in both men’s and women’s tennis –Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams lost in the initial rounds.
Off the field, Tongan flag-bearer Pita Taufatofua became an online sensation by wearing just a Ta’ovala (Tongan mat) and a lot of oil on his torso at the opening of the games. Australian swimmer Mack Horton won the gold men’s 400 m freestyle and caused a stir by calling runner up Sun Yung a ‘drug cheat’ in the lead up to the race. Sun served a three-month ban in 2014 in secret after a positive test.