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Best Olympic Performance since Seoul in 1988

13 August 2012

Best Olympic Performance since Seoul in 1988

New Zealand has produced one of its best performances at an Olympic Games, by winning 13 medals including five golds.

High Performance Sport New Zealand chief executive Alex Baumann says this equals the overall number of medals won in Seoul in 1988 but the five golds won in London make this a remarkable effort by the New Zealand Olympic Team.

Baumann says that New Zealanders should feel very proud of what their Olympic team has achieved in such a highly competitive environment.

"Our team stepped up and performed really well on what is undoubtedly the world’s toughest sporting stage. The Olympic environment puts enormous pressure on athletes. They have to perform on demand in a setting with significant distractions and incredible pressure, against the strongest fields of competitors. So it’s a real accomplishment to achieve what we have at these Games."

Baumann says that a highlight of the Games was the gold medals by rowing men’s pair Hamish Bond and Eric Murray followed soon after by Mahe Drysdale in the single scull.

"Their performances were so commanding and the fact they came in quick succession of each other is something for all New Zealanders to remember for a long time to come. With three golds and two bronze medals, the New Zealand rowing team put on an outstanding performance. Other countries are asking us how we did it," he says.

"We had medals in four of the six targeted Olympic disciplines and in two of the key sports which receive project-based investment. We have improved our overall performance from Sydney to Athens to Beijing, so the trend is going in the right direction. Investment in canoe and equestrian, which have both produced medals in London, had increased in recent years as a result of confidence in their high performance programmes.

"To end the Games with a gold medal from Lisa Carrington was sensational."

Bike, athletics and yachting had all delivered.

"For New Zealand athletes to win five gold medals, is an amazing achievement. With our 13 medallists, this means we had 35 campaigns finishing top eight in the world and 72 finishing in the top 16, with many of these including development athletes who are aiming for Rio in 2016. A strong high performance system has both individuals and team sports doing well, so for the Black Sticks women’s hockey team to finish fourth is also a remarkable achievement.

"For some who placed fourth and fifth in events, there was only a small gap to the podium.

"The results achieved in London demonstrate the growing maturity in our high performance system. We have been able to improve our results over the past few Olympics and have continued to build up the system so that we can produce repeatable results."

Baumann says swimming has underperformed at these Games as their target was to make five finals.

"However, Lauren Boyle made two finals and finished fourth in the 800m freestyle, which is a fantastic achievement in such a highly competitive sport. I do believe swimming is a sport with medal potential for New Zealand.

"It was disappointing that triathlon did not produce a medal when it was on track to do so.

"But overall New Zealand has very done well at these Games."

Planning for the 2012 London Games began in 2006 and the target of 10 or more medals was set then, as part of the high performance strategy developed by SPARC, now Sport New Zealand.

"We achieved that target when the men’s 49er crew of Peter Burling and Blair Tuke won their silver medal. Their result also gave New Zealand its 100th Olympic medal, so it has extra significance.”

Baumann says there is no doubt that the Government‘s increased investment in high performance sport has contributed to more Kiwi winners on the world stage, as there is a direct correlation between investment and results.

In 2010 the Government announced a 50 percent increase in high performance funding which has brought total funding for high performance sport in 2012/13 to around $60m. Over the past four years, $180 million in funding has been provided including for high performance facilities and infrastructure.

Baumann says there will now be a thorough de-brief process to assess the results at the London Olympics. This will inform investment decisions later in the year and the setting of targets for the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games. A number of other factors will also feed into these decisions, such as a sport’s medal potential at future world championships and Olympic Games. The new levels of investment will be announced in December.


The six targeted Olympic disciplines are athletics, bike, rowing, triathlon, swimming and yachting. The four key contestably-funded sports are canoe, equestrian, football and hockey.

At the Sydney Olympics, New Zealand won four medals (one gold and three bronze)
At the Athens Olympics, New Zealand won five medals (three gold and two silver)
In Beijing, New Zealand won nine medals (three gold, two silver and four bronze)
In London, New Zealand won thirteen medals (five gold, three silver and five bronze)

New Zealand finished in 16th place on the medal table.

HPSNZ was formed in August 2011, from a merger of the New Zealand Academies of Sport and the high performance unit of SPARC (now Sport New Zealand). HPSNZ is a one stop shop which channels investment and direct support to athletes. It has an annual budget of $60 million.


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