Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Just when you thought it couldn't get any better

Feeling good about New Zealand sport at the moment?

Cop this lot.

An overseas company,, has predicted New Zealand will win 18 medals, including 10 gold, at next year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero.

It has produced a Virtual Medal Table, with constant updates, which has predicted the hauls across all the sports of the Rio Olympics.

New Zealand's best haul of medals at an Olympic Games is the 13 shared between 1988 in Seoul and 2012 in London. The most gold medals at a single Games is eight in 1984 with the second highest six in London.

New Zealand's haul of 10 gold medals is expected to be shared by Britain, Brazil and Hungary.

The gold medal winners for New Zealand, according to infostradasports will be:

Valerie Adams – shot put' women
Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie – sailing 470' women
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke – sailing 49er' men
Hamish Bond and Eric Murray – rowing, men's pair
Zoe Stevenson and Eve Macfarlane – rowing, double sculls, women
Julia Edward and Sophie MacKenzie – rowing, lightweight double sculls, women
Emma Twigg – rowing, single sculls, women
Lisa Carrington – kayaking, K1 200m, women
Sevens – rugby, men
Sevens – rugby, women

Silver medalists are predicted to be:

Alexandra Maloney and Molly Meech – sailing 49er FX, women
Lauren Boyle – swimming, 800m freestyle, women
Kerri Gowler and Grace Predergast – rowing, pair, women
Curtis Rapley, Alistair Bond, James Lassche, James Hunter – rowing, lightweight four, men
Mahe Drysdale – rowing, single sculls, men
Lisa Carrington – kayaking, K1 500m, women

Bronze medalists are predicted to be:

Pursuit team – cycling, men's

Sprint team – cycling, men's

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

World Cup final here we come

What a brilliant reward making the World Cup final is for an outstanding campaign by New Zealand's cricketers.

But the challenge now is not to just savour their achievement in reaching the final but going on to win it.

There can be no argument that the last five weeks have represented a stellar feat of teamwork in the grand New Zealand manner.

Any sporting success achieved by New Zealanders, generally against the weight of population, monetary and technology advantages enjoyed by the opposition, has teamwork at its core. How else could such a small population base succeed on the world stage?

Yachting, rowing, golf, athletics, rugby, football, softball and a host of other sports have a legacy of teamwork examples as the basis of their success.

But Brendon McCullum's men have a superb chance to add cricket to that list.

No matter which way you look at it, the semi-final victory over South Africa was not an accident.

It may have been achieved with a ball to spare, it may have been as the result of some luck.

Good teams make their own luck, and to be in position to take advantage of it is central to success.

Consider the examples the team has already provided.

Last night it was Grant Elliott with an innings of elegant composure and a penultimate ball six off one of the finest bowlers the game has known.

But it might just as well have been Kane Williamson's six to manage a one-wicket win over Australia.

Or Tim Southee sorting out England with a New Zealand-best bowling effort in ODIs of 7-33 for 15 wickets at 4.23 economy rate.

Or Trent Boult achieving New Zealand's best haul of wickets in a World Cup series, outstanding considering six months ago he wasn't even considered a certainty for inclusion. He heads the tournament list with 21 wickets at an economy rate of 4.41.

Or Daniel Vettori's bowling mastery at crucial stages of the tournament. He has 15 wickets at an economy rate of 3.98.

That's not to forget Martin Guptill's magnificent highest score in World Cups in Wellington with his 237 not out. He sits second on the run scoring list with 532, nine behind Kumar Sangakkara.

Or the electric starts Brendon McCullum has given the side with his blazing bat, for 328 runs at a strike rate of 191.81, and that isn't forgetting his leadership.

And while they haven't taken the bowling apart Ross Taylor and Corey Anderson have featured with some key innings to stabilise the batting just when it was necessary. Anderson has thrown in 14 wickets.

What about Adam Milne picking up wickets at key moments with his exciting fast bowling, or taking catches in the outfield?

All of which highlights the teamwork which is the best asset of the New Zealand side.

Auckland rewarded their effort in magnificent fashion, paying due homage to a side which went one step further than Martin Crowe's men of 1992 and which supplemented the earlier work of teams led by Glenn Turner (1975), Mark Burgess (1979), Geoff Howarth (1983), Stephen Fleming (1999-2007) and Daniel Vettori (2011).

Tuesday's victory was a significant moment in New Zealand's cricket history but McCullum's men have done enough in this World Cup to suggest they can go all the way.

They will have a significant challenge in getting used to the vast acreage of the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The boundaries are much longer, the ground to be covered in the field much further and the methods of run accumulation much different.

But as the teamwork has shown during this tournament, if ever there was a team of winning the World Cup it is Brendon McCullum's side.