It was a momentous day for the NZL Sailing Team in Rio yesterday when four New Zealand crews sailed their Olympic medal races in phenomenal sailing conditions under the spotlight of the world’s sports fans and media.
Three kiwi crews stood on the podium yesterday, taking one gold and two silver medals adding to the sailing bronze won on Tuesday in Rio by Sam Meech. Messages of congratulations have been flooding in from fans in New Zealand and around the world.
Four Olympic medals in sailing is not without precedence for New Zealand, but it has been 24 years since it happened, and the 2016 performance is equal to the previous best haul of gold, two silver, one bronze back at Barcelona 1992.
New Zealand is one of only two nations to collect four medals here in Rio, the other being Australia. New Zealand has now won 22 Olympic sailing medals in total including nine gold, seven silver, and six bronze.
New Zealand was represented in seven Olympic sailing events in Rio, and all seven crews finished within the top ten of their fleet and sailed the medal race.
The average age of the New Zealand sailing team in Rio is just 25 years-old, and yet the team featured two three-time Olympians – Jo Aleh and Peter Burling.
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke took out the 49er event in style with a medal race win proving the fitting final flourish to an incredible four-year campaign. Already secure for gold on points the men enjoyed every moment of that race and then realised their dream of going one better than 2012 to win an Olympic Gold medal.
Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie captured everyone’s attention when they came back fighting from 7th on the table, to get back into the medal hunt. A solid tactical medal race performance was required to secure a podium finish, and they held their nerve to deliver what was required for the women’s 470 Olympic Silver medal.
Alex Maloney and Molly Meech shone in the spotlight placed on the women’s skiff class which is one of two new events in the Olympic Games this year, and featured strong local hopes Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze. With four boats lying equal going into yesterday’s medal race, the last on the schedule, the breeze turned up the dial and it was all on for a grand finale.
It came down to the wire between the kiwis and the Brazilians, and the local crowd erupted on the beach when Grael and Kunze took the race by a mere two seconds.
Nacra sailor Gemma Jones was the youngest sailor and the only female helm in her medal race sailed on Tuesday. She and Jason Saunders won the Nacra medal race and missed out on the podium by only three points.
On Tuesday Josh Junior closed his first Olympic Games appearance in 7th overall in the Finn fleet. Yesterday Paul Snow-Hansen and Daniel Willcox sailed the Men’s 470 Medal Race finishing 6th and closing the Rio Olympic Games in 10th overall.
NZL Sailing Team Results
GOLD Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (49er)
SILVER Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie (Women’s 470)
SILVER Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (49erFX)
BRONZE - Sam Meech (Laser)
4th - Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders (Nacra)
7th - Josh Junior (Finn)
10th Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox (Men's 470)
Full results are available on the Rio 2016 website: https://www.rio2016.com/en/schedule-and-results
NZL Sailing Team Rio 2016 Media Guide here http://www.yachtingnz.org.nz/racing/olympic/2016-olympic-sailing-team
In total, 380 sailors from 66 nations raced in 274 boats across ten Olympic Events across seven racing areas in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
For more information:
Rio tel: 21973483812