IT WAS a show of Kiwi girl power, with more on the way, at the Olympic Games in London this morning.
Sailors Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie took gold, BMX rider Sarah Walker silver and more hopes are pinned on Gisborne-connected kayaker Lisa Carrington to win gold on the water tonight.
Aleh and Powrie go by the name Team Jolly and they had plenty to cheer about early this morning after they won the women’s 470 class at Weymouth.
BMX cyclist Walker climbed the podium to take silver after finishing second in the final at a sweltering, crash-strewn Olympic Park, a bike length behind Colombian Mariana Pajon.
The gold and silver brought the New Zealand medal tally to 11, with four gold and the third silver taking us to 15th place on the rankings.
On the kayak course last night, Carrington produced an Olympic best time to qualify fastest for the K1 200m sprint final, the “splash and dash” of flatwater kayak racing.
The Bay of Plenty paddler with Gisborne connections won her semifinal in 40.528 seconds, trimming .873s off her heat time 90 minutes earlier at Eton Dorney. She had a cracking duel with Spain’s Teresa Portela Rivas in the middle of the course for the two guaranteed places in the final from the semi-final.
After taking gold in the women’s 470 race, Aleh and Powrie said it would be a few days before it sunk in.
The pair went into the medal race on equal points with Great Britain’s Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark and, with a big gap to the Netherlands, were guaranteed a silver medal.
It meant the double points medal race for the top-10 boats came down to a head-to-head battle between the two crews. It did not matter if they finished ninth and 10th. Whoever crossed the line first won gold.
Aleh, 26, and Powrie, 24, made no race of it. Not only did they beat the British crew, who were ninth, but they also won the race in emphatic fashion to stamp their mark on this regatta.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet. I think once we catch up with all our family it might,” Powrie said.
“It’s going to take a few days. We’ve tried to treat this like any other regatta, because it’s a lot easier to separate ourselves from all the pressure and the hype, and it still seems like just another regatta so far. I don’t know how to switch it off. I’m having a few issues with that but I’m sure it will sink in,” said Aleh.
The pair embraced after crossing the line but didn’t really know what to say to each other.
“Maybe a few swear words,” Powrie admitted.
On the BMX track, Walker conquered her inner demons and won silver.
The 24-year-old from Kawerau, cheered on by her parents and brother, among the 6000 in the grandstands, said fear drove her on to the dais.
She crashed three months ago in Norway and dislocated her shoulder, which left her thinking her Olympic dream was over.
“I’m happy. They’re tears of emotion and a little bit of disbelief as well. It has been a lot of hard work to get to this point,” she said.
“If I didn’t push myself and push that limit and challenge myself, I wouldn’t be on the podium today. Every day was scary for me training for the last three months.”
Walker spoke openly of her mental battle, after finishing fourth in Beijing four years ago.
“Going into Beijing I did doubt myself a lot and I didn’t really believe I could win or believe I deserved to be on that podium. I’ve worked a lot over the last two years to build up the confidence and myself and the belief in myself that I can do this and that I can push myself and to not be afraid of losing.”