Bay of Plenty’s Olympic stars
New Zealand’s 211 Olympic athletes for the Tokyo games have been announced, with the Bay of Plenty well represented.
Our region has the second-highest amount of Olympians attending after Auckland, plenty of whom are carrying medal ambitions.
The leading light is Peter Burling. The Tauranga sailor guided New Zealand to an impressive America’s Cup victory in March, and will hope to win gold in the 49er event with regular partner Blair Tuke.
Tauranga will also have brother and sister sailors Sam and Molly Meech competing in the men’s Laser and women’s 49er category respectively.
The Bay of Plenty’s representation on the water does not end there.
Lisa Carrington, a gold medalist in Rio, will attempt to repeat that feat in one of her four canoe/kayak sprint events.
Luuka Jones will be hoping to go one better than her silver medal in Rio, as she competes in the women’s K-1 and C-1 events. Callum Gilbert, another Tauranga slalom star, is competing in his first games.
Jordan ‘Paz’ Parry, who takes over from fellow Tauranga Boys’ College alumnus Mahé Drysdale, makes his Olympic debut in the men’s single scull rowing.
Rotorua shot-putter Dame Valerie Adams is chasing her fourth Olympic medal and goes into the competition in good form, having thrown her season’s best distance at a recent event.
The track and field representation continues, with former Bethlehem College student Sam Tanner taking on the 1500m challenge.
Tanner is coached by Craig Kirkwood, who also puts Hayden Wilde through his paces. The Whakatāne triathlete could be a sleeper hit for a medal in Tokyo.
The Bay of Plenty also has ample representation in team sports.
The Rugby Sevens programme in New Zealand is based at Mount Maunganui’s University of Waikato Adams Centre for High Performance, making them all locals, but Rotorua’s Scott Curry and Ōpōtiki’s Dylan Collier add to the BOP flavour.
Rūātoki residents will watch on eagerly with Stacey Fluhler and Ngarohi McGarvey-Black in the women’s and men’s squads respectively.
Ngongotahā FC have two former footballers taking part - Nando Pijnaker for the men and Paige Satchell for the women, whilst Whakatāne goalkeeper Jamie Searle and Tauranga midfielder Olivia Chance are also in Tokyo.
Hockey also has BOP representation with Tauranga’s Frances Davies, Rose Keddell and Samantha Charlton featuring for the Black Sticks.
So whatever the sport, and wherever you are from in the Bay of Plenty, there is plenty to look out for when this year’s Tokyo Olympics officially begin next Friday.