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Two rowing golds for NZ

Two rowing golds for NZ God Defend New Zealand rang out twice within 40 minutes at Eton Dorney in perhaps the greatest moment in New Zealand’s Olympic history.

Sports historians talk about the golden hour in Rome in 1960, when Peter Snell and Murray Halberg won athletics gold medals within 60 minutes.

But Hamish Bond and Eric Murray in the men’s pair and Mahe Drysdale in the single sculls won gold 39 minutes apart.

The gold medal to Bond and Murray was presented by New Zealand’s IOC member Barry Maister, himself a former Olympic gold medallist – in hockey.

Drysdale has won five world titles, but for him there was unfinished business in his brilliant career.

He could well have won the gold medal in Beijing four years ago, but fell ill during the critical week and in the end rowed valiantly to scramble away with a bronze.

This time the big fellow made no mistake.

He faced a stern test from long-time rival Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic, but by halfway the New Zealander was ahead by 0.19s.

Drysdale really put the hammer down in the third quarter and stretched his lead to 1.40s. It seemed the gold was his if he could maintain his rhythm.

Like the champion he is, Drysdale never faltered. He finished in 6min 57.82s, with Synek back in 6min 59.37s and Briton Alan Campbell third in 7min 03.28s.

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Cyclists grab bronze

New Zealand’s men’s team pursuit cyclists rode superbly to grab the bronze medal at the Olympic velodrome.

It was New Zealand’s third medal of the day, following the two golds won by the rowers earlier.

The pursuiters – Sam Bewley, Marc Ryan, Jesse Sergent and Aaron Gate – thus defended the bronze medal New Zealand won in Beijing in 2008. Westley Gough, after riding in the qualifying rounds, was omitted in favour of Gate.

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Boyle fourth in 800m final Lauren Boyle, New Zealand’s best swimmer at the Olympics, produced an outstanding effort to finish fourth in the women’s 800m freestyle.

Boyle, who beat her own New Zealand record in the heat, really turned on the power in the final and her time of 8min 22.72s took another 3.19s off her best.

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Other New Zealanders couldn’t make an impression in the days Olympic swimming heats.

In the women’s 50m freestyle heats, Hayley Palmer was timed at 25.47s, which placed her 23rd of the field of 73.

And the New Zealand men’s 4 x 100m medley relay team narrowly missed making the final after recording a time of 3min 34.52s.

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Willis looks confident

Nick Willis looked confident in easing through the first round of the 1500m heats at the Olympic Stadium.

Willis, a silver medallist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, took the lead early in his heat and even though six from the race were assured of progressing, he kept out of trouble by staying at the front.

The other New Zealander in action at the track was Sarah Cowley in the heptathlon.

She finished the first day of the two-day event in 30th place.

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Two sailing crews ranked second

In front of their family and friends on the Nothe spectator course, Peter Burling and Blair Tuke have reclaimed their grasp on the Olympic 49er second place standing, while 470 women Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie had similar performances to also be ranked second after their first day of racing.
Both the NZ Finn (Dan Slater) and Star (Hamish Pepper and Jim Turner) have finished the opening series inside the top ten and after a rest day, they will be progressing to Sunday’s medal race ranked ninth and eighth respectively.

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Weightlifter finishes down the field
New Zealand weightlifter Richie Patterson was disappointed with part of his performance in the 85kg Olympic competition.

Patterson, competing in the B division, lifted a total of 336kg – 150kg in the snatch and 186kg in the clean and jerk.

His total placed him seventh among the division’s lower-ranked lifters, with the top 15 to lift later in the A division.

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Shooter eliminated

Ryan Taylor bowed out of the Olympic 50m rifle prone competition at London's Royal Artillery Barracks.

Taylor, 32, finished with a total of 592 points from his six qualifying rounds.

He would have needed 595, which proved to be the cut-off score for finalists.

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Hockey men suffer second loss

The New Zealand men’s hockey team suffered a heavy blow to their Olympic hopes when they went down 5-1 to The Netherlands at Riverbank Arena.

The Black Sticks had lost to Korea and beaten India in earlier matches and were looking to pull one out of the bag against the world’s third-ranked team.

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Football Ferns exit Olympics

The New Zealand women’s footballers bowed out of the Olympics after losing 2-0 to the United States, the world’s No 1-ranked team, at St James Park, Newcastle.

The Football Ferns faced a challenging task. They are ranked only 23rd in the world and don’t have nearly the pedigree of the Americans, who have won three of the four Olympic women’s football tournaments since the sport was opened to women in 1996.

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