New Zealand in International Sporting Events

Despite its remote location and comparatively small population size, New Zealand certainly makes its presence felt on the international sporting stage. The most obvious place to see the country’s sporting prowess is in rugby with national teams the All Blacks and the Kiwis. However, it also has accomplished athletes in disciplines as diverse as kayaking, athletics and football across the globe. Here we’ll take a look at New Zealand’s place in some of the biggest international sports tournaments in the world, paying close attention to some of its star players.

New Zealand gold medal canoeist Lisa Carrington

As outlined previously, New Zealand has a relatively small population size compared to the great level of success that it enjoys in sporting events. In my opinion, this is due to the healthy attitude of the New Zealand nation towards involvement in sport, and strong participation levels across the populace. I have seen that the interest and encouragement displayed across the board allows the country to compete at a high level in many international sporting competitions.

New Zealand is also proud of its sporting prowess, and the way that it puts the little-big country firmly on the map. Extreme sports such as mountaineering, bungee-jumping and white-water rafting are also very popular in this Australasian country. I’ve found that New Zealand’s joy at pursuing the most challenging of physical activities knows no bounds, and I think that it is this die-hard enthusiasm that wins them such overwhelming success on the playing field.

Olympic Games

Re-established in 1896, the Olympic Games remains perhaps the most famous sporting event in the world. Whilst New Zealand has not yet hosted the competition, it has seen immense success in the Games. With 117 medals earned to date (46 of them gold) and 1371 athletes having represented the country, New Zealand currently ranks as number 26 on the Olympics’ all-time medal table.

That seems pretty impressive to me, for a country whose winter coincides with the summer of most other competing countries. However, this disadvantage doesn’t seem to have knocked the Kiwi athletes’ confidence at all. In fact, the team are aiming for their highest medal haul yet at the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo with a target of 16+ medals to take home. The country’s Olympic efforts have consistently been on the up and up ever since London 2012 so it’s looking entirely possible for them to achieve their goal and beyond.

New Zealand Olympians of note include competitive canoeists Ian Ferguson and Paul MacDonald. They are the two most successful New Zealand Olympic athletes to date and rowed to victory together in the 1984 K2-500 and K4-1000 in LA. The pair’s dramatic lead in the K2-500 race earnt them the respect and admiration of everybody watching as they pulled forward to easily secure the win. They later returned to the Games in 1988 to win the gold for the K2-500 together.

More recently, New Zealand continued its success in rowing and canoeing and took home another three gold medals shared across 4 athletes including world champion Mahe Drysdale. I would say that the ones to watch come 2020 are the women’s kayaking team, as they are on something of a winning streak recently. Lisa Carrington secured her individual gold in Rio, but it’s the team events where the Kiwi rowers will really shine.

All Whites captain Winston Reid

FIFA World Cup

Now in its 88th year, the World Cup is viewed by many as one of the most important events in the sporting calendar. Along with many other sports fans, I see the football tournament as a chance to bring different nations around the world together through a shared love of ‘the beautiful game’. Excitement is peaking across the globe right now as we prepare for the 2018 games to begin and try to predict the World Cup outcome, whether that benefits our home teams or not!

Although New Zealand came relatively late to the party and didn’t enter the World Cup until 1970, they have qualified for the competition twice. The country has enjoyed only moderate success so far, but this year saw the All Whites put up a good fight. They piled up success after success in the qualification rounds, winning the OFC Third Round with a cumulative 8-3 score against the Solomon Islands. After advancing on to the OFC-CONMEBOL play-off however, they lost out on World Cup qualification with a 0-2 score to Peru. Despite this disappointing defeat, the strong progress that the team made up to that point hints at great things to come from the national team.

Despite not taking part in this year’s tournament, New Zealand football fans can still join in the excitement. In my opinion, one of the best things about the event is that, if your team doesn’t qualify, you can still support other countries instead and participate in the fun of trying to predict the World Cup outcome. Whether you approach it with a keen eye for the favourites to win or let your heart decide which team to support, following all the action can still be rewarding even if your country’s team haven’t made it through.

I think that New Zealand can quite happily claim the title of a great sporting nation. Although it has experienced its fair share of defeat, as with any other country, it has some truly outstanding athletes representing the nation on the world stage. Kiwi basketball player Steven Adams is currently representing his home country’s sporting prowess by playing for NBA team Oklahoma City Thunder. Richie McCaw is still hailed as a rugby union hero, despite his recent retirement, with 2 World Cup victories under his belt. Lydia Ko continues to make waves in the world of golf after she became the youngest no 1 pro golf player ever at the age of 17. If there is one thing that New Zealand does well, it’s produce great sports stars, and long may it continue.

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