Saturday, August 16, 2008

New Zealand's Best Day Ever at the Olympics

New Zealand finally got on the medal table at the Beijing Olympics, posting it's best ever tally of medals on a single day at an Olympics with 2 golds, a silver, and a bronze.

The Evers-Swindell twins, Caroline and Georgina, won the gold in a photo-finish win by 0.01 seconds in the womens double sculls rowing race. Later in the day, Valerie Vili took the gold in the women's shot-put, New Zealand's first track & field gold medal since 1976. Vili, who likes to intimidate competitors with a strong first throw, threw her personal best shot of 20 m 56 cm on her first throw which effectively shut out her Belarussian opponents.

In a gritty, bloody-minded effort, Mahe Drysdale, having battled illness for over a week, won a bronze in the men's single sculls. Leading with 100 m to go, Drysdale noticeably weakened & was overtaken by his Norwegian and Czech competitors. He collapsed immediately upon finishing and had to be carried to the medal ceremony after being given medical treatment.

New Zealand's silver medal was won by cyclist Hayden Roulston in the 4000m individual pursuit. Two years ago he was warned that he should quit cycling because of a heart condition, but made a comeback after he adopted the Japanese healing technique of reiki.

Rowing, cycling, and shot put are sports in which New Zealand has traditionally shown strength at the Olympics. A small country of just over 4 million, New Zealand is obviously a small player on the Olympics stage but it clearly has its moments sometimes way beyond what might be expected of a small nation and its athletes.

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