Glowing in gold. That has to be the feeling in New Zealand today as the 2012 London Olympics draw to a close.
Lisa Carrington put the cap on what has been an amazing Olympics — five golds and 13 medals in total that left New Zealand in an outstanding 16th place, well ahead of many much larger countries. It is our best haul ever, equalling the tally in Seoul in 1988 but with more gold and silver medals.
Fittingly for an island country, the water proved our winning surface with the golds to rowers Mahe Drysdale, Eric Murray and Hamish Bond, Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan, and yachties Jo Aleh and Olivia “Polly” Powrie.
Ohope’s Lisa Carrington, a near neighbour who also has strong family connections here, would have touched a special cord thanking a Gisborne kaumatua for approving a pounamu pendant to replace one she had lost.
It is kayaking’s first medal since Seoul and it may lead to a revival that will benefit Gisborne which, with people like Benny Hutchings, Alan Thompson and Grant Bramwell, was one of the birthplaces of the sport.
Canoe Racing NZ is looking to establish bases in Auckland, Christchurch and Gisborne to develop the sport. That is good news for our local competitor Darryl Fitzgerald, who is reportedly looking at the K1 for Rio.
The Games had disappointments for Valerie Adams, Nick Willis and, most heartbreaking, the Black Sticks women who were beaten in a penalty shoot-out by the Netherlands. That is sport.
Nothing is free in this world and the Games’ successes have come with a government contribution of $180 million. That is dwarfed by the £ 9 billion cost to Britain, though PM David Cameron says the country will recoup £ 13 billion in future years in economic gains.
Of course, the rewards to the country can’t be measured in dollar terms. The dedication of the Kiwis, their composure and mental strength, and their modesty in victory set priceless role models for our young people. Roll on Rio and let’s do it all again.