NZ tracking towards record medal haul at Rio Olympics

High Performance Sport New Zealand (HPSNZ) says a year out from the Rio Games New Zealand is tracking well towards what could be its best ever Olympic and Paralympic Games results.

Today marks one year from the start of the Rio Olympic Games, and the Rio Paralympic Games a short time later.

HPSNZ Chief Executive Alex Baumann says the Rio targets of 14 or more Olympic medals and 12 Paralympic gold medals were set soon after the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“London was an incredibly successful Games for New Zealand. We won 13 medals including six gold at the Olympics and 17 medals including six gold at the Paralympic Games.

``We want the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games to be New Zealand’s most successful Games ever, which we’ll do if we reach our targets. A year out we’re confident we’re tracking well.”

``But we’re not underestimating the size of the task given how competitive high performance has become internationally. We also know that the year ahead is a crucial one for athletes and sports seeking qualification spots and as they make their final preparations leading into the Games. By the end of the year, we’ll have all the results in from world championships which will be another measure of how we’re tracking towards Rio,’’ Baumann says.

There have been many strong performances by Kiwi athletes recently including at the recent World Rowing Cup in Lucerne where Kiwi rowers won 11 medals including nine in Olympic disciplines, which Baumann says was an outstanding result. Cycling has also had excellent results recently in sprint and team pursuit disciplines, as have Olympic class sailors Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, and Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie, Lisa Carrington in kayak, and many others.

``A year out, our focus is on the athletes, teams and sports we work with so there are no gaps in their preparations, so they can perform to their full potential at Games time. The next year is critical and we want to leave no stone unturned so that on the day, Kiwi athletes can perform at their best when it counts,’’ Baumann says.