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New Zealand's Road to Rio: Weekly Highlights 13 - 19 Oct

Triathlete Andrea Hewitt books first ticket to Rio

Three podium finishes have helped earn triathlete Andrea Hewitt the honour of being the first athlete selected in the New Zealand team for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The two-time Olympian achieved the selection criteria set down by the New Zealand Olympic Committee with a consistent season in the World Triathlon Series, including a trio of top three finishes and a ranking of No. 2 in the world.

The Cantabrian says her focus between now and Rio is to “keep everything right, my environment, my training, and my team.”

The majority of selections for the New Zealand Olympic team are expected between March and July 2016.

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Team Jolly fourth in the world

Olympic sailing gold medallists Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie have finished a long year on the water with a fourth placing at the 470 World Championships in Haifa, Israel.

After a tough start to the regatta in shifty conditions, Team Jolly gave it their all in the double points medal race and finished second, but it wasn’t quite enough to lift them on to the final podium.

In the men’s 470 worlds, Kiwis Paul Snow-Hansen and Daniel Willcox ended up 12thoverall, taking vital lessons for their bid for the Rio Olympic Games.

Final chance for Black Sticks men

The Black Sticks men are faced with their last chance of automatic qualification for the 2016 Olympic Games – at the must-win Oceania Cup in Stratford this week.

Ranked seventh in the world, the New Zealand men need to beat world champions Australia, as well as Fiji and Samoa, to claim the Oceania spot in Rio.

Coach Colin Batch has named debutant striker Leo Mitai-Wells among a talented squad for the tournament, which starts on Wednesday.

The Black Sticks women, who have already qualified, will be playing for valuable world ranking points in the Oceania Cup women’s tournament at the same time.

Anton Cooper rates the Rio track

Fresh from being crowned the World Under-23 cross-country champion, Commonwealth Games gold medallist Anton Cooper has checked out the Olympic mountain biking course in Rio de Janeiro and given it the thumbs up.

The Kiwi rider managed to fit in 13 laps of the course during a valuable test event.

“Ninety-five percent of the course was out in the open with no tree cover. The course was completely man-made… with plenty of technical rock sections and slippery loose corners. It had been packed down hard by a roller... but it was still great run to ride with a high average speed.”

Cooper returns home next month to focus on selection for the New Zealand Olympic Team.

Check out Anton Cooper's website

Mahe makes it three golds

Olympic champion single sculler Mahe Drysdale has won the Head of the Charles race for the third time in Boston.

The five-time world champion thrived in tough headwinds on the three-mile course to beat American John Graves by 10 seconds – adding to the titles he won in 2005 and 2011.

Drysdale now heads to Philadelphia to race for the prestigious Gold Cup on the Schuylkill River. Here he is set to meet his arch-rival, world champion Ondrei Synek of the Czech Republic.

Check out Mahe Drysdale's website

Showjumpers celebrate success in the north

New Zealand showjumpers Bruce Goodin and Sharn Wordley have had successful weekends in different corners of the Northern Hemisphere.

Four-time Olympian Goodin won the CSI one-star 1.40m grand prix at the JBK Horse Show in Denmark on board Baloppi. Fellow Kiwi rider Brad Cunningham was 11th on Kiwi Crusher.

In North Carolina, Sharn Wordley continued his march up the Olympic rankings with a third placing at the Tryon International grand prix, on his horse Casper.

Wordley, who competed at the 2008 Beijing Games, is now ranked 146th in the world rankings towards Rio. New Zealand has yet to qualify in showjumping for next year’s Games.

Thompson steps up in dressage

New Zealand dressage rider John Thompson has taken his first steps towards qualification for Rio, winning both Grand Prix classes at the inaugural high-ranking competition at Equidays in Mystery Creek.

Thompson and Antonello notched up their first of the required four scores towards his Rio qualification. Julie Brougham, who is also focused on riding in next years Olympic Games, was second in on her horse Vom Feinsten.

Kiwi kayaker claims unusual first in Africa

Evading crocodiles and illegal diamond hunters, Olympic kayaker Mike Dawson has achieved a world-first on two rivers of Africa’s rugged west coast.

Less than a month after qualifying New Zealand in canoe slalom at next year’s Rio Games, Dawson went on a complete different adventure - making the first successful descents of the Cuanza and Keve Rivers in Angola.

Dawson and American Aaron Mann ran previously unpaddled sections of the Cuanza, encountering croc-infested pools, 36m waterfalls, and a police raid of an illegal diamond mine. Dawson’s Expedition Angola trip also involves filming, mapping and documenting the rapids and flow of the rivers in these remote, uncharted gorges.

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Check out Mike Dawson's website

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Check out their video on Accuracy and Rowing

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