50) Meet Charlisse Leger-Walker
Her mother was a Tall Fern, her older sister’s doing good things at the University of Northern Colorado and 16 year old Charlisse may be the youngest ever Tall Fern but you wouldn’t know it from the way she torched Jamaica for 18 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals, all in only 24 minutes. She bagged a cheeky 18 points in the bronze-medal match too. We ain’t heard the last of CLW.
49) Ryan Taylor Going Bang
Shooting highlights were tough to come by. Olympic silver medallist Natalie Rooney didn’t even make her final while defending 50m rifle prone champ Sally Johnston only finished eleventh. Traditionally one of NZ’s best events with the fourth most medals won in shooting of any CG sport… at least Ryan Taylor came close. Qualified in second but ended in fifth. It ain’t Greg Yelavich but it’s something.
48) Nick Southgate’s Fine-Ass Hair
The comp didn’t go the way he’d planned but the locks… say no more!
47) The Fourth Was With the Swimming Folks
Three medals from the pool, two for Sophie Pascoe and one for Lewis Clareburt. Probably about what was expected… although it coulda been so much better. Celyn Edwards was fourth in his 200m indie medley SM8 final. Jesse Reynolds had two fourth place finishes in finals (100m backstroke SB9 & 100m breaststroke SB8). The men’s 4x100m freestyle relay team banked a fourth as well. And don’t forget the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay either. Plus Brad Ashbee had two fifth place finishes too.
46) A Couple Stellas
Stella Ashbert is 15 years old. She was born the day before a teenaged Valerie Adams won her first Commonwealth Games medal (silver in 2002). Stella Ebert is also 15 years old, the youngest athlete on the New Zealand squad, and both these two are already doing crazy things in the gymnastics.
45) Spare a Thought For Siositina Hakeai
Got to feel a bit stink for Hakeai, who had a quality dig at the discus, channelling a bit of Beatrice Faumuina there. It would’ve taken something close to a personal best to get second but she looked to have third place and bronze all locked up until Indian thrower Navjeet Dhillon beat her in the final round. Fourth place for Siositina… same as she got at the 2014 Games. Guuuuutted.
44) Flippy McTaggs
Olivia McTaggert was a gymnast before she took up pole vault… can you tell?
43) Patrick Mailata Slugs It Out With Frazer Clarke
He lost it… but Patty went down swinging against a very talented heavyweight in Frazer Clarke (who sparred with Anthony Joshua before his Joseph Parker fight). Mailata threw all sorts at him, a massively entertaining mix of power and aggression, and came away with a split decision defeat but a bronze medal as consolation. One of five kiwi boxing medallists - which meant that trainer Jake Rapira had to dye his beard blue and red. See, here's the proof... (alongside David Nyika)
42) Shaye Boddington’s Comeback
Look here, Shaye Boddington made the final of the 1m springboard at the diving after 13 years out of the sport. She’s only been back at it for 18 months so at this rate surely the Olympics are within reach. 13 years out and she’s making finals. That’s insane.
41) Mark Noble, Bruce Wakefield and Barry Wynks
You know who those blokes are? They won silver in the Lawn Bowls open para triples and ran the Aussie bloody close in the final too, going down 14-13. One of the more underreported medals of these games but they get their due here. Top stuff from them.
40) The Tall Blacks Get Stung in the Semis
Like… sure, they ought to have won this thing. They beat Canada by 22 points in the group stage only for a barrage in the third quarter of their semi-final rematch to leave them in serious danger, down by 17 points going into the fourth quarter. That was when Shea Ili stepped it up and led his mates all the way back… only for Mamadou Gueye to hit an absolute fluke on the buzzer for the Canadian win. Bloke stumbled on his dribble and then banked the three, no way that’s how he visualised it in his head. Sometimes you just gotta cop those on the chin and the Tall Blacks responded well to win bronze.
39) All Day, O’Dea
The O’Dea brothers make beach volleyball look a ridiculous amount of fun. Diving around the place, blocking everything in sight, saving the most irretrievable-looking balls and generally just getting all sandy. A well-earned bronze for the pair, just a shame that the women’s pair got toppled in the quarters by a Cyprus duo playing the game of their lives for the upset.
38) When Prince Charles Met The Tall Ferns
Talkative old royal, ain’t he? Charlie had a right old time yarning with the Ferns.
37) Laurel Hubbard
Forget about the busted elbow and the probable gold medal that went with it and ignore the complicated and controversial thing with her eligibility (best to defer to the official guidelines in these situations, they’re there for a reason and they’re way more informed than Jerry Talkback Caller) and acknowledge for a second an enormously courageous comeback tale of a kiwi pioneer.
36) Brad Mathas is Very Fast
Didn’t sneak onto the podium, however a fifth place finish and a personal best of 1:47.07 in the 800m final is nothing to snark at. Awesome seeing a kiwi runner doing good things at this distance, it’s been a few minutes since Peter Snell.
35) Stacey Michelson Rocks That Flag
The hero for the women’s Blacksticks and a deserving flag bearer for the closing ceremony. Love it.
34) Kiwi Kids Are Weet-Bix Kids
We probably expected a little more from the triathletes. Andrea Hewitt didn’t have her best race and Nicole van der Kaay’s rapid dash didn’t make up the distance. Ryan Sissons was a distant fifth, never really in contention while Tayler Reid did run the top men pretty close for a while there, a stunning first two legs from the young fella, but he faded in the run. Oh well, there was always the mixed relay. All four of the aforementioned triathletes combined for a bronze medal in what turned out to be a fantastically exciting variation on the sport. Should be cool to see as the mixed relay makes its Olympic debut in 2020.
33) Shannon McIlroy is the Most Stylish Dude in the NZ Team
The pictures say more than words ever could. The glasses, the kicks, the necklace... too slick.
32) Who’s Lewis Clareburt?
The swimming team didn’t do much outside of Sophie Pascoe. No Moss Burmesters or Lauren Boyles here to get the job done… so it was up to 18 year old Clareburt to win our only other medal in the pool. Brad Ashby was probably the preferred kiwi in the 400m indy medley final yet swooping in for bronze was Clareburt, smashing four seconds off his personal best in a time of 4:14.42.
31) Tres Mujeres
Tamsyn Benny, Alexis Pritchard and Troy Garton. Three women boxers entered in competition, three bronze medals to check through customs on the way back to the Long White Cloud. It was especially sweet for Pritchard, who had initially retired a few years ago after a first round exit at the last Comm Games and missed qualification for the Rio Olympics.
30) Campbell Stewart is Relentless
Just sprint lap after sprint lap, Campbell Stewart had to do it the hard way but he got himself onto the podium with a second placed finish in the men’s points race. Same as he won silver in the scratch race. Hey and this bloke’s only 18 years old. The 2020 Olympics sound like a good bet right now.
29) Paul Coll’s Semi-Final Comeback
The final was a step beyond, going down in straight sets to England’s James Willstrop, but just getting to the gold medal match was an achievement. After dropping the first two to Welsh upstart Joel Makin a playoff for bronze looked likely. Coll was in a stroppy mood, things weren’t going his way. Hey, some people just need the added adversity. Coll stormed back to win it in five, flipping the script and earning that silver medal the hard way.
28) Linda Villumsen Is Rapid
Silver in 2010, gold in 2014, now a silver in 2018. Three straight top two finishes in the women’s time trial. Australia’s Katrin Garfoot was a comfortable enough winner, taking the title by 54 seconds in the end, but Villumsen once again delivered at a major event for a silver, twenty seconds ahead of the next in line. Credit to Rushlee Buchanan in fifth as well.
27) Shout Out to Alana Barber’s Dad
Apparently he hadn’t been overseas for 45 years but he broke that streak to support Alana on the Gold Coast. Must be a lucky charm too because she only went and won a silver medal in the race walk. So yeah… shout out to Alana Barber too while we’re at it.
26) Tears For Katrina Grant
The Silver Ferns are in a mess right now, failing to medal on the GC, and the worst part of it is that it wasn’t even a surprise. Highlights were few and far between… but you have to give credit to Katrina Grant for stepping up and answering some tough questions along the way. Most famously that one interview in particular. Fair question and a defiant answer. There’s plenty wrong with the Ferns at the moment but passion is not one of them.
25) Those Robertson Twins, At It Again
On the night that Eliza McCartney and Valerie Adams were out there winning silvers, Jake Robertson snuck under the radar with a fifth place finish in the 10,000m race, busting the NZ record with 27:30.90 in the process (beating his brother Zane, who was injured for GC2018). He hadn’t even run a track race for a year and he goes and does that. It would’ve been a Comm Games record but for the four dudes who also beat that mark and by more. Six weeks ago he broke Rod Dixon’s 34 year old marathon record in his first official run at that distance. Between them these two are out there breaking every NZ distance running record they can find.
24) The Women’s Team Track Cyclists For Silver
After the shambles on opening day with the men’s team pursuit getting disqualified for illegal handlebars… or something like that… the women’s pursuit team of Bryony Botha, Rushlee Buchanan, Kirstie James and Racquel Sheath made up for that with a silver soon after. Got lapped by Australia in the final but all goods, still Aotearoa’s first medal of the 2018 Comm Games. Aussie then went and won the team sprint by 0.2 of a second (which is a wider margin than it sounds) but Emma Cumming and Natasha Hansen still added medal number two of an eventual 46.
23) The Multisport Magnificence of Hamish Bond
As if being one half of the most dominant men’s rowing pair of recent times wasn’t enough, as if two Olympic gold medals weren’t enough, Hamish Bond then went and biked his way to a bronze medal in the road time trial. Even an errant road cone couldn’t stop him. Only two seconds off second as well, which was a nail-biter as the English dude came rolling in.
22) Holly Robinson’s First Javelin
It was a big one. 43.32 metres straight up for a new world record and it had her set for the gold medal through the whole competition… almost. Robbo showed remarkable consistency across her six throws, never dipping below 40 metres, but she also couldn’t top that magical first go. And then, with her last throw, Welsh competitor Hollie Arnold went even better for 44.43m. Silver for New Zealand. Can’t complain when you break a world record along the way, though. Brilliant stuff and with both of them only 23 years old it’s a rivalry that’ll only get bigger and better.
21) Georgia Williams Down The Home Stretch
Time trial second-placer Linda Villumsen was probably the kiwi favourite in the women’s road race but as we came to the end of a gruelling three hours and change on the bikes it was G-Dubs who came screeching around the outside and surging into the silver medal position at the line. First woman to earn a Comm Games medal in the road race since Susy Pryde in 1998.
20) Tom Walsh’s Qualifying Shot
Tommy wasn’t at his best in the finals. He won gold by a comfortable margin but you could tell he wasn’t too happy with his rhythm as he only peaked at 21.41m. A day earlier, however, he’d rocked up to qualifying and hurled one 22.45m for a new Commonwealth Games record. One and done. That’s what the big fella’s capable of: complete and utter domination.
19) Jo Edwards Has Ice in her Veins
It probably helps that she’s been there, done that before for singles Lawn Bowls gold at Glasgow 2014 because down 17-13 after 19 ends against Wales’ Laura Daniels in the final, she had a panic level of zero. Edwards soared back from a slow start to take this thing 21-17 and hear the anthem play for her once again.
18) Shootout Glory for the Women’s Blacksticks
Fourth place at the last two Olympics, knocked out in a shootout against Netherlands at London 2012. Fourth at the 2014 Champions Trophy after losing in a shootout against Australia in the semis. Disappointing in the last couple World Cups. Beaten by Aussie in a gold medal shootout in 2010 at the Commonwealth Games. Beaten by England by shootout in the semis at the 2014 Comm Games. When the final whistle blew in the semi against England, history was not on the Blacksticks side. Step up Grace O’Hanlon and Stacey Michelson.
17) Sam Webster’s Sprinting Gold
Too fast, mate. Too fast. Webby backed up his Glasgow haul by repeating with golds in the team sprint and individual sprint and there wasn’t a bugger could stop him as he won every race on the way to the indy gold.
16) Regan Ware Goes Dancing
Step one, step two, step three, step four, step five and that’s a try. Bugger all the worry, the men’s sevens lot did it easy in the end.
15) Joelle King is the Squash Queen (I)
Three medals for King. Three medals. She won the women’s singles and the women’s doubles with Amanda Landers-Murphy as well as taking the bronze in the mixed doubles with Paul Coll. Cyclists Eddie Dawkins and Natasha Hansen were the other two triple medallists these games for Aotearoa but neither of them won double gold. Joelle played 16 games in 11 days, incredibly.
14) Eddie Dawkins Is A Nutcase
Perhaps you didn’t know this about him. He is, though. Self-proclaimed nutcase. And whether he’s blitzing his way to bronze in the keirin, silver in the time trial or gold with his mates in the team pursuit, his power on the pedals and exuberant passion’s a bloody joy.
13) Sophie Pascoe Leads Out The Squad
46 medals ago, this happened. (Someone tell Surfing Sam to get out of the way).
12) The Blacksticks Fellas Followed the Trend
There was no golden heroics like the women’s side managed, Australia were a step beyond them in the final game. But that 3-2 win over India for a third ever male hockey medal at the Comm Game, equalling the silver medal of 2002, was a thriller. Hugo Inglis and Stephen Jenness had us up 2-0 inside quarter of an hour for the dream start before Marcus Child added another later on. Harmanpreet Singh made it frisky but the NZers held on for a 3-2 win, bloody marvellous.
11) Silver For Lizzie Mac
Not the gold that was hoped for though that had as much to do with Alysha Newman matching her personal best to take gold. For the record, her 4.70m vault would’ve won the 2014 Comm Games by 20cm. In fact it would’ve won every other Comm Games pole vault comp since the women’s event was first included in 1998. And it’s easy to forget that Eliza McCartney is still only 21 years old in an event that people usually peak at in their mid to late 20s.
10) Julia Ratcliffe’s Angelic Voice
We already knew that JR could throw a hammer a long way. When the two higher ranked competitors both tanked out, the comp was there for the winning and Ratcliffe came up big with 69.94m to stand atop the podium. And then took advantage of that moment to absolutely belt the anthem out like the champ she is. Those high notes, how about ‘em!?
9) Sam Gaze and Anton Cooper Are Not Mates
They’ve split the mountain biking gold and silver in consecutive Comm Games now but the two are not cool about it. Apparently there’s some beef with Gaze about four years ago and he got his revenge with a gold on the Gold Coast… but there was drama. Gaze had a puncture late on and Coops upped the pace while he was getting it fixed, leading to a middle finger salute. Gaze then chucked a pointy elbow in as he passed the dude later on and gave it the big shush as he crossed the finish line. Bit weird watching too kiwis beefing and it certainly got blown outta proportion but it goes to remind you that these things are highly competitive… and two kiwis took gold and silver.
8) Queen Val Does It For The Bubba
It was only a silver medal for an athlete who was once unbeatable in this sport. Yet this medal might be a little more special than all but a couple of those golden ones as Valerie Adams hit a season’s best 18.70m in the shot put final a mere six months after giving birth to her daughter (who was there to absorb as much of it as she could). Beaten by a better thrower on the day, fair enough. Queen Val’s now medalled at five straight Comm Games. Is she even human?
7) Redemption for the Men’s Team Sprint Lads
There was nothing sexy about the sloppy sixth placed finish that Ethan Mitchell, Eddie Dawkins and Sam Webster managed in the Netherlands just two months ago at the World Champs. Three time world champs and that was what’s up. But they made quick amends with a superb run at the Comm Games, blitzing the English in the final by nearly half a second for Aotearoa’s first gold of the 2018 Games. Magnifico.
6) Every Time Sophie Pascoe Jumped in the Pool
Some Aussie gave her trouble on the way to her second gold but nothing that Sophie couldn’t handle on her way to another perfect Games. Not even the sweltering heat could stop her. 100m breaststroke SB9 and 200m individual medley SB10 golds. Just like last time. Too good.
5) There’s No Stopping David Nyika
Damn, what an athlete. The path to his final sorta opened up, overcoming some bite marks in the round of 16 before a walkover in the quarters. He then took care of Cheavon Clarke in unanimous fashion before doing the same to Aussie Jason Whateley in the final for gold. Too easy. This dude is so sharp, possessing such fantastic movement and handspeed, barely looking troubled the entire way. He’ll be a threat at the Olympics and he should have some very enticing professional options after that.
4) Joelle King is the Squash Queen (II)
Already mentioned the overall haul but hitting up the Comm Games in career best form, King’s journey to gold in the women’s squash singles was an absolute pleasure to watch. In a sport that can get contentious at times she never lost her cool. It was probably that level-headed attitude that helped her clinch the decisive set in the women’s singles final after being dragged back from 2-0 up.
3) Kelly Brazier’s Golden Try
Argh no, just kick it out… don’t try to… okay, but pass it infield, yeah there you go… wait, no don’t run it from there… ooh, sweet fend…now pass it… okay then don’t… yes, run it, come on Kelly! WHERE’S THE SUPPORT!? Keep going, over halfway, don’t let them catch you now… COME ON! Oh damn she’s gonna score here… SHE’S GONNA SCORE! SHE SCORED! NEW ZEALAND WIN!
2) Clean & Jerk and All Clutch From David Liti
This guy, what a hero. The team officials buggered up his second lift in the snatch but he still got himself in medal contention and then, with his last clean & jerk, having seen his Samoan opponent need medical attention after his final attempt, out comes Dangerous Dave and he gets all the way on up there for a new Comm Games record 403kg total and the gold medal. Then to top it all off he was celebrated at the closing ceremony with the prestigious David Dixon Award!
1) Gold Medal Glory for the Women’s Blacksticks
See the one about their semi-final shootout win and multiply by about a hundred. Up against the hosts and favourites the ladies straight up whupped them. Goals for Shiloh Gloyn, Rose Keddell, Olivia Merry and Anita McLaren set up a 4-1 victory and a famous gold medal. How good!?
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