Top Ten NZ Sports Stories Of 2014

Kiwis star in a wide range of sports

By Roger Childs

New Zealanders are known to punch above their weight in world sport, but not in boxing. Below are ten top performances over the year, in no particular order.

Kiwi leagueKiwis league team on top of the world

‘Throughout the entire tournament he provided a devastating mix of organising the New Zealand side and producing moments of individual brilliance himself. Sports journalist, Gareth Walker

It was always going to be Australia winning the Rugby League Four Nations Trophy. Well let’s face it they are traditionally the world’s best and never lack the confidence. Getting beaten in the first round by the Kiwis 30-12 was just a blip, although some Aussie fans were getting nervous. The Kangaroos made the final and this would be different.

It was certainly close at 22-18, but it was the Kiwis who prevailed. Shaun Johnson was the star and his brilliant try in the second spell where he had too much pace for the Aussies, sealed the match.

Coach Stephen Kearney was humble in victory. Stephen is one of Paraparaumu College’s most famous old boys.

Lydia Ko’s wins the final LPGA tournament

Ko and CWPGA trophy… playing today when I was out there I just set myself a goal, to make myself as many birdies, and go out there and have fun. Lydia Ko

The winner of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Florida would get $US 500,000 plus a bonus of $US 1 million. Lydia was three behind starting the final round, but finished with a four under 68 to be in a three way tie.

By the fourth sudden death hole it was just Ko and Spaniard Carlota Ciganda. The Spaniard’s approach shot went into the tussock at the edge of the lakeside green and Ko took the hole, and the big cheque, with a tap in.

It’s been another fantastic year for the Kiwi with

  • three wins,
  • 12 other top-10 finishes
  • world ranking: No.3

She also has the remarkable record of not missing a cut in 42 LPGA tournaments.

Valerie Adams International Female Athlete of the Year

AdamsThis is the icing on the cake for 2014. It’s been a year that’s been physically challenging but I’m proud to be here for New Zealand and Oceania. Valerie Adams.

Valerie Adams was named female World Athletes of the Year for 2014. For this she received a handsome trophy at the IAAF World Athletics Gala in Monaco in November.

This year the two time Olympic champion added a ninth senior global title to her collection in winning the world indoor crown in Sopot and getting gold at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

She was the only athlete in the world to win at all seven IAAF Diamond League fixtures in any discipline. Her record has been extraordinary and makes her New Zealand’s most successful track and field athlete ever.

The top female athlete award for 2014 is just reward for her amazing superiority in the shot put.

Murray and Bond win two incredible world titles

“We wouldn’t be racing it if we didn’t think we were capable of winning both” Murray said

In the Amsterdam World Championships in late August, Bond and Murray set themselves the unique challenge of winning both the

  • coxless pairs
  • coxed pairs.

Bond and MurrayIn the latter event they would be carrying 55kg coxswain Caleb Shepherd. The media wondered if this was a race too far and might endanger their amazing winning streak in the coxless pair. They needn’t have worried.

The extra weight in the boat was no problem. Helped by a favourable tail wind Bond, Murray and Shepherd, who probably couldn’t believe his luck, demolished the field to post a world’s best time by nearly 9 seconds.

Then the following day they came from last at half way to win by over 4 seconds. This was their 19th victory in the coxless pair.

With over 50 consecutive wins, Murray and Bond are the most successful rowers in the history of the sport.

Lisa Carrington retains her world title

Moscow was at the end of a big year – 2014 was a really big season for me – so it was good to reflect on that and figure out what we can do going forward. Lisa Carrington

Olympic champion Lisa Carrington won her favourite event at the World Kayaking Championship in Moscow in August. The 200m is a very short event and requires a fast start. Winning margins are often in hundreds of a second, however Carrington won by almost a boat length.

She also won the silver medal in the K1 500, finishing just half a second behind the winner after a poor start.

Nicholson makes history at Burghley

Andrew NicholsonHe [Avebury] has been in the right place at the right time. He’s always been a winner and horses that are consistently winning have a chance to do what he’s done. Andrew Nicholson

The Burghley Horse Trials is the blue ribbon event in a sport where being consistent is a great challenge. In September New Zealander Andrew Nicholson not only won the event for the third consecutive year but he did on the same horse: Avebury.

 

He was in the lead after the cross country and could have dropped two rails in the final event and still won. However Nicholson is a perfectionist and completed his show jumping with a clear round.

Our Surf, Life Saving team the world’s best again

That was definitely the hardest bronze I’ve ever won but also one of the sweetest, especially as the guys held on to win today, Steve Kent, after finishing the tube rescue with a dislocated knee

In September in the south of France, New Zealand has retained its Surf Lifesaving World Championship title. This is the first time any country other than Australia has had back to back wins.

Heading into the final day of competition, the Black Fins lead with 608 points, followed by France on 565 points and Australia with 559. As in all sports, the Aussies are competitive to the last minute and they were only 26 points back in second.

Five medal winning performances clinched the world title for New Zealand:

  • Chanel Hickman winning the beach flags gold medal
  • A win to the men’s taplin team also won gold.
  • Danielle Mckenzie second in the ironwoman race
  • Cory Taylor silver in the ironmen’s race.
  • Andy McMillan silver in the men’s surf race.

Kapiti’s Michael world’s best skater over 15,000m

Inline skating Peter MichaelHe ran the perfect race. He stayed out of trouble and had the speed to bring it home. New Zealand Skating Coach, Bill Begg

Local inline speed skater, Peter Michael had once again won the 15,000m title. In Rosario, Argentina he beat a strong field in the final strait.

In the final with 40 starters, Michael kept near the front but out of trouble. The process of elimination left just five skaters, still in the competition with three laps to go. The men to beat were Alexis Contin and Ewen Fernandez from France, and they controlled the race until the last 300m.

At this point, Contin made his bid for victory with Michael in hot pursuit. However, on the final bend with just 40m to go, the Kiwi made his move and narrowly edged out the Frenchman on the line.

Michael was humble about what he had achieved. It is an unbelievable sensation.

Burling and Tuke take the 49ers world champs

 We go into every event wanting to win, but we also have a lot of other things we’re looking to tick off as well. [The World Champs] was our peak event for the year and our only goal there was to win. Blair Tuke

Peter Burling and Blair Tuke were in a class of their own in the 49er in 2014, winning every major event they entered including two World Cup regattas, the European Championships and an Olympic test event in Rio.

However the most important victory was in the ISAF World Championships in Santander, Spain where they won back-to-back world titles with clinical efficiency. They finished an incredible 46 points clear of the rest of the fleet, which included the 2012 Olympic gold medallists Australians Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen.

Not surprisingly they won Yachting New Zealand’s sailor of the year award for the second straight year.