Wednesday, February 28, 2024

COMMENT: Gold beyond medals

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Tupou Neiufi, who trains at the Howick Pakuranga Swim Club, won NZ’s first gold at the Tokyo Paralympics. Photo ODT

Initially renowned for the laughter they created, The Adams Family have long since gone from comedians to the power of their athleticism.

Take former Half Moon Bay resident Dame Valerie Adams, twice Olympic women’s shot put champion with a silver and bronze medal to go with it.

Seven-foot brother Steve, a multi-millionaire NBA star and now 30-year-old sister Lisa, coached by Val, who a few days ago became the F37 Paralympic shot put champion. Not only did she win gold but she beat all opponents with all six of her throws.

Not bad for a three-year novice blessed with great genes and a sister/coach who is a veteran in the sport they excel in.

Not surprisingly in winning with a 14.36m throw, Lisa shattered the Paralympic record.

Before that, New Zealand had only scored two medals at these Tokyo Paralympics – a silver to Sophie Pascoe in breaststroke and a gold to stylish backstroker Tupou Neiufi who trains at the Howick Pakuranga Swim Club under the guidance of her coach Sheldon Kemp.

What makes all three women more special in overcoming their handicap is they don’t look back with prolonged regrets but get on with life in a positive way as an inspiration to others which proves that all that is gold is not just the medals they wear around their necks.

Fourth to join the Kiwi medallists before Pascoe attempted her backstroke events yesterday was Danielle Aitchison who claimed silver in the 200m women’s 200m track event in 29.88s.

Although a distant second to China’s Shi Yiting’s 28.21s, Aitchison is only 20 and has a big future ahead of her.

It’s nice to see Black Ferns Sevens head coach Allan Bunting retire with an Olympic gold medal after his team of stars performed so sensationally at Tokyo after the pain of silver at Rio in 2016.

Bunting has been associated with the Black Ferns programme for 10 years and has enriched it as part of World Cup wins, two Commonwealth Games golds, six World Series wins and a 40-match winning streak through 2018/19.

With Sir Gordon Tietjens having won a knighthood for past services to the NZ men’s Sevens, Bunting deserves no less.
Sweeney will be sole head coach for the Black Ferns

Commonwealth Games and world championship crowns.
Ardie Savea’s promotion to captaincy of the All Blacks for the Rugby championship in Australia while Sam Whitelock, Aaron Smith and Richie Mo’unga delay their trip to celebrate the birth of their babies is richly deserved.

A different personality to the cool-headed Whitelock and injured former captain Sam Cane, the passionate Savea is not devoid of a sharp rugby brain.

However Australian coach Dave Rennie and captain Michael Hooper will relish their improved chances in the absence of the world class Whitelock, Smith and Mo’unga although it offers a big chance for the likes of Beauden Barrett to prove he’s ageing better than that “old gray mare.”

If given his preference, No 8 Savea would probably have preferred to mark Hooper at No 7 but in more recent times has shown he can cope well with either berth.

  • Ivan Agnew is an award-winning sports writer

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