New Zealand in the Olympics

It is no secret that the Olympic games are the ultimate dream for most sportsmen and sportswomen. This event, which dates back to 8th century BC, started off as a form of entertainment for the inhabitants of Ancient Greece and gradually became an inseparable part of our society. It takes place every four years and brings together thousands of athletes all ready to go beyond their limits. Among those athletes, we can always spot the representatives of New Zealand. While people of New Zealand nationality competed in the Olympics way back under the Australian flag, as an independent nation New Zealand entered their first Olympic games in 1920. From then, New Zealand has been an active member of the summer Olympic games and has participated in most Winter Olympics as well.

New Zealand in the Olympics
New Zealand in the Olympics

New Zealand and Summer Olympics

The very first person to represent this beautiful and unique country in the Olympic games was Victor Lindberg, who was a part of the British Water Polo team – the Osborne Swimming Club – and won gold back in 1990. This medal, although not attributed to New Zealand’s flag, marks a very important milestone in the country’s involvement in the games.

There are two things to keep in mind as we discuss New Zealand’s progress in the Olympics. First is the extreme distances the athletes had to travel in order to reach the locations where the event was taking place. Since plane travel really took off as a means of transportation only in the 50s, every time up until that point the athletes had to face a lot of difficulties if they wanted to simply physically be there. One other aspect to keep in mind is that the Summer Olympics are organized based on the cycles of the Northern Hemisphere. What impact that has on New Zealand? Well, being a Southern Hemisphere country, it needs to make sure that all of their athletes are at the maximum capacity and best form possible to participate in summer games while in New Zealand it’s winter time, which presents a lot of challenges when it comes to training indoors, getting accustomed to weather conditions outside, or even something as simple as the common cold.

That all being said, out of the 120 medals that New Zealand’s athletes proudly boast, 117 were won during the summer Olympic games. Rowing, athletics, and sailing are the sports New Zealand truly excels at.

New Zealand and the Winter Olympics

The three medals that New Zealand has from the Winter Olympics come from freestyle skiing, alpine skiing and snowboarding. The point from the previous section is to be remembered though; if it might be difficult to train and peak for Summer Olympics during the winter, vice versa is even more complicated because the weather conditions do not allow for any kind of activity outside, which is a big disadvantage if you’re a skier or snowboarder. That said, Annelise Coberger was the first person ever from the Southern Hemisphere to win a medal at the Winter Olympics when she won silver in the slalom at Albertville in France in 1922.

New Zealand and the Winter Olympics
New Zealand and the Winter Olympics

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