Olympic lessons from our leading lights

The Olympic stage is packed away for now but the long may the lessons our Olympians taught us live on. A part from some incredible performances (not just from the medalists) here’s some of the real gold from Rio…

We should never never give up…..Team Jolly

As defending Olympic Champions in the 470 Olympic Sailing Class Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie had a big target on their back. Their opposition hit the bullseye a couple of times with penalties awarded against them resulting in disqualification from two races. This meant no points from two races for Team Jolly. Cue a better clean out of the field than Richie McCaw. When the odds were truly stacked against Team Jolly and some of the media had already written them off they never gave up. With their backs to the wall they simply ticked one performanceoff at the time, attacking each race with aggression and poise. A tremendous fight back from Team Jolly took them into the silver medal position and a feeling for the crew that was “better than a gold medal”.


Polly Powrie and Jo Aleh on their way to Olympic Silver. Photo credit: Stuff

Dreams do come true……Luuka Jones

As an athlete you dream of that perfect day when you can do no wrong in the field of play. Where you get into a state of flow and you come away with the performance you know and believe you are capable of. Ranked 22nd in the world Luuka Jones never stopped believing in the potential of the perfect performance and in Rio she produced it on her way to a silver medal. She nailed the canoe slalom course and loved being able to express her gifts that she has crafted for many years on a course she had specifically prepared for. It was not a mistake Luuka was on the podium but yes it was not expected by those outside of her bubble. There were lots of medal predictions and potential medalists picked heading into Rio. None of these lists contained Luuka Jones name. Luuka Jones is proof dreams do and can come true, but also that ‘overnight successes’ are a product both of years of work and smart specific preparation for the one event that matters.


Luke Jones produced the goods when it mattered most. Photo cred: Getty Images

Leave a legacy 

Sport has enormous potential to impact others. To provide hope to those who don’t have a lot of sparkle going on in their lives. One of the awesome initiatives of the NZ Olympic Team was to visit the Mangueira community in Rio to give back. Both the White Ferns, the Sevens Sisters and the Rowing team paid a visit to the local community building a connection to the people of Rio who are less fortunate. Bikes have been donated by Avanti, other sports equipment given and the official uniform supplier Peak has also given kit. Whilst the Olympic Machine rolls in and out of Rio not everyone will have access to the Games (not 100% clear what you mean here?). In the case of the NZ Olympic Team Chef de Mission Rob Wardell is on a mission to make sure the right legacy is left.

Likewise Canoe Salome athlete Mike Dawson efforts to feed the favelas is admirable. Dawson recognized that the Olympic train sweeps in and out of Rio and there are still hungry mouths to feed in these communities. Dawson gave out food packs to those in need and indeed left an impression to be proud of.


Embrace the moment…..Eliza McCartney

As the youngest in the Olympic final by five years Eliza McCartney’s smile when introduced with the rest of the Pole Vault competitors did not reflect a nervous teenager at her first Olympics. It simply radiated the joy of an athlete being in moment. Whilst the former Olympic Champion and current World Champion crumbled in the heat of the moment Eliza smile shone bright with pure joy at what she was doing. Calm and composed Eliza jumped her way to the bronze medal. Her smile reflected that she loved being in the heat of the Olympic cauldron being able to express her physical gifts soaring herself through the air and over the bar. She embraced the moment and New Zealand fell in love with her in the process.


Smile that captured the nation.  Photo cred: Getty Images


Deal with it… and move on!

Our Olympic medallist shot put double act may not have come away with gold but both Valerie Adams and Tom Walsh acquitted themselves with distinction on the Olympic stage coming away with silver and bronze in the womens and mens events respectively. Both of them threw well yet came up against opponents delivering massive life time best throws. To their credit both kiwis handled their defeats admirably expressing both humility and admiration for the their opponents but also an obvious desire to do better. Notably both of them have come back to win in diamond league against the newly crowned Olympic Champs and in the case of Tom throw a massive 22m NZ record. Hats off to them both.val







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