April 2018 Sports update – part 2

April has seen New Zealand competing in the Commonwealth Games which finished on the 15th of the month on the Gold Coast in Australia. The country took 252 athletes, returning home with 15 gold medals, 16 silver medals and 15 bronze medals.

There were a few surprise medalist as well as a couple of competitors who did not get the medal they might have expected. Some may have thought that Valerie Adams was a firm favorite to win the Shot-put gold medal but she finished winning the silver medal. However, Adams was returning to competition only 6 months after giving birth to her daughter which made her performance remarkable.

Valerie Adams celebrates her silver medal with her baby

The failure of the ladies’ netball team to win the gold came as a surprise to many, considering its illustrious past that has seen the Silver Ferns win 2 gold and 3 silver commonwealth medals. However, recent seasons has seen the team win two victories in 11 encounters against their main rival Australia and this is most probably the last tournament for many of the players.

While the netball team disappointed, the same cannot be said about the Silver Sticks, the ladies’ hockey team. A resounding 4-1 victory against Australia gave the nation their first ever gold medal in the event. As well as the ladies performing well, the Black Sticks also had a great tournament returning home with the silver medal.

David Nyika created history in the heavy weight boxing ring. Four years ago, at the age of 18, he won the gold medal in the light heavy weight division in Glasgow, but this time around he stepped up to the heavyweights to become the first commonwealth boxer to win 2 gold medals in separate divisions.

In terms of medals won, the most successful sport in 2018 has been the cycling where 18 medals have been collected. In the men’s sprint, Sam Webster took his second gold medal in the event, having also won it in Glasgow.

New Zealand also took the men’s team sprint. As well as including Webster, the side was also made up of Eddie Dawkins and Ethen Mitchell, and they took the gold in a commonwealth record time of 42.822. Having won the silver medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, this result was predicted by many.

David Nyika in boxing action

In the mountain bike cross country, the New Zealand pair Anton Cooper and Sam Gaze took 1st and 2nd with Gaze just coming out on top. In Glasgow, 4 years previously, the roles were versed, with Cooper just managing to claim the gold medal.

One area that the nation was expecting to do well and that was in the rugby 7-a-side competition. They did not disappoint, with both the men’s and the ladies’ teams returning home with gold medals. The men beat Fiji in the Final 14-0, while the ladies beat Australia 17-12 in their final.

The squash court proved to be a successful area for the New Zealanders. In the ladies’ event Joelle King defeated the English player Sarah-Jane Perry to claim Gold. In the men’s finals, Paul Coll lost to the veteran Englishman James Willstrop who win the silver medal.

Another athlete who arrived on the Gold Coast with great hopes was the men’s shot putter Tomas Walsh. The current New Zealand record holder in both the indoor and outdoor events is the current World Champion. He did not disappoint and a Commonwealth Games record throw of 22.45m both gave him the gold medal and demonstrated how ahead of the rest of the field far he was.

The sheer numbers of medals won by the competitors at the Games demonstrated how talented the country’s athletes are. They will do well to surpass this figure in 2022 when the Games are held in Birmingham.

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