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New Zealand’s Road to Rio

New Zealand’s Road to Rio

All Blacks Sevens Triumph in Wellington Thriller
The resilient Rio-bound All Blacks Sevens have made it three-in-a-row in Wellington, with a thrilling 24-21 final victory over South Africa in the latest round of the World Rugby Sevens Series.New Zealand conceded two early tries to the Blitzboks, but stole one back just before halftime, where South Africa led 14-7. Although the South Africans continued to dominate after the break, two tries by Rieko Ioane and Joe Webber’s last-gasp score in the corner secured the tournament honours for the home team.Coach Gordon Tietjens paid credit to his strong bench of players with “the X-factor”, who will make the job of narrowing down a squad for the Rio Olympic Games a tough proposition.New Zealand, who gave away just one try in the Wellington knockout stages, now head to Sydney for the next leg of the world sevens this weekend.

Women’s pair Scown and Behrent rocket to world’s fastest row
Rebecca Scown and Genevieve Behrent have set an unofficial world's best time in the women's pair at an action-packed Cambridge Town rowing regatta on Lake Karapiro.Scown and Behrent recorded a time of six minutes 49.06 seconds in scoring an upset victory over world championship silver medallists Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast.

In another upset, national quadruple sculler John Storey made the most of a tailwind to defeat Olympic champion Mahe Drysdale in the men's single sculls. Storey’s quad missed qualifying for Rio at last year's world championships in France, but get a last opportunity in Lucerne in May.The lightweight duo of James Hunter and James Lassche pushed Olympic champions Hamish Bond and Eric Murray to a close race in the premier men’s pair final, with the six-time world champions holding out by 2.73s.PHOTO: Hamish Burson | Photography

Double victories for BMX stars Walker and Jones
Kiwi BMX cycling champions Sarah Walker and Trent Jones have notched up important victories on their roads to Rio, toppling their Australian opponents at the Oceania Continental championships in Auckland.

Olympic silver medallist Walker, on the comeback trail after two years side-lined by injury, pipped world No.4 Caroline Buchanan for the women's honours and picked up vital Olympic ranking points.

World No.15 Jones was too good in a men’s field that included top Australians Sam Willoughby, Bodi Turner and Corey Frieswyk.

Walker and Jones, who won their respective national titles the previous day, will next compete in the opening rounds of the UCI Supercross World Cup in Argentina in March, with their world championships in Colombia in May.

Sailing’s Meechs bring home the medals from Miami
The Meech family of sailors have much to celebrate after Molly won gold and brother Sam snatched bronze in their respective classes at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami regatta.

Molly Meech and Alex Maloney scored a compelling victory in the 49erFX women’s skiff, snaring gold before the final medal race had been sailed. A fourth in the final race ensured the New Zealand women finished 25 points clear of the Danish crew Jena Mai Hansen and Katja Salskov-Iversen.

Sam Meech came from behind to won bronze in the Laser fleet; a third placing in a light-wind medal race giving Meech the medal on countback. Three other Kiwis in the Lasers finished in the top 10 – Thomas Saunders 7th, Andy Maloney 9th and Michael Bullot 10th.

Black Sticks veterans return for South American odyssey
Black Sticks veterans Kayla Whitelock and Emily Naylor will make their return to international hockey when New Zealand plays world No. 2 Argentina in a six-test series in Mar del Plata next month.Whitelock, who has 229 test caps to her name, last played for the Black Sticks at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, taking a break to have a daughter. Naylor, a 257-test veteran, took time out after the Commonwealth Games and had her return delayed by a hamstring injury.Captain Anita Punta and goalkeeper Sally Rutherford will be missing from the 19-strong touring party, which will serve as the start of the Black Sticks’ 2016 build-up to Rio.

No-show means Football Ferns qualify for Rio
The Football Ferns have confirmed their ticket to the Rio Olympic Games (subject to selectors approval) after Papua New Guinea pulled out of the second leg of the Oceania women’s soccer play-off.After the New Zealand women won the first leg 7-1 in Lae last weekend, their rivals Papua New Guinea failed to get travel visas in time to fly to Auckland for the final match last Tuesday.The 16th-ranked Football Ferns now focus on the Algarve Cup in Portugal in March, where they will play Brazil, Russia and Portugal.

Last chance saloon for Tall Blacks in ManilaThe Tall Blacks will play in a six-nations basketball tournament in Manila in July in their final chance to qualify for Rio.New Zealand has been drawn with France, The Philippines, Turkey, Senegal and Canada in the tournament where only the winner will earn an Olympic spot.The Tall Blacks – who competed at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics - will travel to Europe for several warm up games before the tournament.


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