Oh man, but how good was that women’s time trial? Linda Villumsen charging in to take gold when it looked like she might be about to fall short! The Games are so good for watching and enjoying sports that you never get to see usually (outside of the Olympics as well). I’ve spent hours this week saying, Ok I’ll go to bed in five minutes, I just wanna see the end of this match… only to end up glued to the telly screen for half the night. In the past 24 hours I’ve been entranced by Lawn Bowls, Table Tennis, Wrestling, Cycling and Hockey. Plus all manners of track and field. The event doesn’t matter it’s just the thrill of watching human beings performing supreme athletic feats in competition. It’s the best.
And yes, lawn bowls does count under the ‘supreme athletic feats’ banner. I tried it once, and it’s not easy. Especially with some old bugger yelling at everyone to stay off the greens. It reminds me of darts in the precision that it takes, not just now and then but every single time. I can hit the triple 20 every 100 darts or so. The Phil Taylor’s of the world can do it 99/100 (together we’d make quite a team…). It’s like walking a tightrope, a single slip and everything’s gone. Watching the lawn bowlers hit their mark time after time is never less than amazing.
With 4 more days to go, New Zealand has already beaten its previous best gold tally in a Games held outside of these fair shores. We’ve got 13 as it stands, and a decent shot at matching the 17 of Auckland 1990. Anyone who tries to take away from that by mentioning the para events added to this edition can back the truck right up too. Yeah, it helps that there are more medals on offer, but they don’t hand those things out for free. Ask Sophie Pascoe just how hard she works to get to where she is. By the way, Auckland 1990 was also the start of a streak that’s seen Australia top the medal tally at every Comm Games since… but that streak could be about to end. England are up by 8 golds, and this is with the Aussies’ glamour swimming events all over. Ah, that’s just too bad.
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Well I gotta drop it like it's hot with the Black Sticks men. They handed it to the Malaysians 6-1 in a second half performance that should fill them with confidence. It was a first half similar to the England game but the Black Sticks managed to sneak a goal in between long defensive periods, which is a trend that is sure to put a smile on many kiwi hockey fans faces. It seems like the memo is to absorb the pressure, work hard and when presented with an opportunity get a penalty corner at the very least. Arun Panchia definitely got the memo and he's emerging as a go to PC go getter ... when you've got Andy Hayward flicking it makes life much easier.
The Kiwis managed to hold out Malaysia long enough to reap the rewards and they did so in abundance thanks to some free flowing attacking play. Simon Child is emerging as a contender for not only our MVP but a tournament wide MVP thanks to some more classy assists, which is super important given that the team work hard as a unit to ensure they are hard to break down and then guys are in the right place at the right time to make the most of any chance Child creates.
Or anything that Brad Shaw creates, shit what an effort from him storming up field and finishing with a touch of class that Child would approve of.
The Black Sticks performance after seeing Val Adams get another gold, probably made my week. Adams is possibly my favourite Kiwi athlete and she deserves everything that has come and will continue to come here way with another dominant performance. There isn't another athlete I'd want to be at the forefront of the team over Adams and hopefully she can kick back for the rest of the Games and inspire the rest of the crew.
Someone else who would inspire a few of our troopers is Linda Villumsen who thoroughly deserved her gold in the time trial. She's battled away for a few years now and hasn't been able to go to the nek level but now she's a gold medalist, congrats!
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Linda Villumsen – She did it! After five consecutive silvers or bronzes at the world champs, and a silver in Delhi, Villumsen won gold in the road cycling time trial, overcoming an 8 second deficit at the final checkpoint to storm home to glory.
Valerie Adams – Another gold and she didn’t even have to test herself. But then that’s what we’ve come to expect from Valerie Adams. 54 victorious shot put meets in a row. Probably the least contentious flag bearer in a long time.
NZ Hockey – Both mens and womens into the semis. The men needed at least a draw against a tricky Malaysian side (who’ve beaten them this year), and they won 6-1. Yes. That means they’ll take on India for a place in the final. The ladies clash with England at 1.30am Saturday in their semi.
Li Chunli – Basically our greatest ever table tennis player, Li bore the silver fern at four Olympics, and has won four Comm Games medals in the past. She retired in 2004 to coach, but returned here aged 52 to compete once more. She lost an epic 7 set clash in the third round, having at one stage saved 5 match points to take the sixth. Bear in mind that the Malaysian opponent she lost to was over two decades he junior. Top effort.
Craig Miller – Comprehensively beaten by Sri Lanka’s Chamara Perera in the 65kg wrestling class. If this isn’t the image of a man who needs a hug then what is? Actually, he’s sorta getting one already.
Francois Etoundi – The Aussie weightlifter has had his accreditation stripped and is being shipped home after breaking a Welsh competitor’s nose in the village dining room. Apparently a headbutt, apparently a spat over some chick. Etoundi won bronze in the men’s 77kg division. You’ve gotta laugh!