Olympics: Timing’s everything in race for the podium

New Zealand Olympic BMX rider Sarah Walker. Photo / Kenny Rodger

The difficulty of earning Olympic medals has been highlighted recently as athlete sleeper cells emerge from hibernation to challenge in London, threatening NZ podium contenders. Andrew Alderson looks at several events where medals seemed ‘probable’ last year but have now slipped into the ‘possible’ category.

Previous world championship results can seem hollow when Olympic threats begin emerging. A new generation of prime Kiwi athleticism is set to discover if they have the hearts and heads to match the world’s best under pressure. Here are several examples of those coming under scrutiny:

Men’s double sculls

Nathan Cohen came within one place of a bronze medal in 2008 with Rob Waddell. With fellow two-time world champion Joseph Sullivan, the campaign has snagged. Last place in the B final at the Lucerne World Cup means serious work is required over the next two months to restore confidence. Still, in 2008, the Evers-Swindell twins missed one world cup event through illness and only won the B final in the other. Adding to Cohen and Sullivan’s woes is the form of defending Olympic champions David Crawshay and Scott Brennan.

The Australians had two years off after Beijing, came fourth last year and took silver last weekend in Lucerne.

Women’s single sculls

Crack Belarussian Ekaterina Karsten is still to race this season, world champion Mirka Knapkova is easing into top form, China’s Xiuyan Zhang won the initial World Cups and Azerbaijani Nataliya Mustafayeva upstaged fifth-placed Emma Twigg in Lucerne – so there are plenty of challenges to Twigg’s podium dream after she earned bronze at the last two world championships.

Women’s pair

The latest recipe on Juliette Haigh and Rebecca Scown’s website 1boat2girls.co.nz is for beef cannelloni. They’ll need several hearty feeds of it to re-establish themselves in an event they have dominated for two seasons. At Lucerne they lost for just the second time in their two-year partnership, beaten by the British who are shaping as Olympic favourites on home water. The same crew beat them last year, also at Lucerne. The New Zealanders then pipped them by 0.08s at the world championships. The United States are a threat and, as defending Olympic champions, Romania are likely to produce a crack unit. Insiders say Haigh and Scown need to work on their speed in the first 500m.

Men’s Omnium

Shane Archbold captured the public imagination with his omnium silver medal at last year’s track cycling world championships. With his hairstyle a possible candidate for the hall of fame on ratemymullet.com – the 23-year-old is a dynamo in cycling’s ‘sextathlon’ – a flying lap against the clock, points race, elimination, individual pursuit, scratch race and time trial. He dropped to fifth at this year’s world championships, let down by 16th in the points race and seventh in the pursuit while other riders such as Australia’s Glenn O’Shea stormed into contention. In the aftermath he assessed the situation in a state of disbelief: “I’m not winning, so something is going wrong.”

Women’s BMX

After fourth at Beijing, Sarah Walker has remained on the podium at big events (including a win at the 2009 world championships). However, last month’s BMX world championships in Birmingham culminated in ninth overall. Walker at least had her riding mojo back just six weeks after dislocating her shoulder. She had only been back on her bike a week and had not practised on the 8m-high start ramp until Birmingham. The downside is world championship gold and silver medallists Magalie Pottier and Eva Ailloud of France are on the rise and Brit Shanaze Read has won three of the last four world championships.

Men’s Javelin

Stuart Farquhar remains the answer to one of the more obscure pieces of track and field trivia: Which New Zealand athlete who isn’t Val Adams led the world in 2012? The 30-year-old’s 86.31m throw, set at a meet in Hiroshima on April 29, is still the mark to beat two months out from the Games. Farquhar has positioned himself as a threat but the key is performing in Olympic competition. He has to withstand fellow spear-chuckers like Olympic champion Andreas Thorkildsen and world champion Matthias de Zordo.

Women’s Hockey

Back in July the Black Sticks earned bronze at the Champions Trophy in Amsterdam. It was the first medal for a New Zealand hockey team at a Champions Trophy. The team has equalled its highest world ranking (sixth) and have also produced consistent results against an international benchmark like Australia, including a goal difference victory in the three-match Oceania Cup. Germany and the Netherlands are still considered out in front but Britain and Argentina loom as potential spoilers to a first medal for the New Zealand women. The team’s form slumped with sixth at the Champions Trophy in Argentina earlier this year.

Women’s Triathlon

A flat course and a British runner who has tattooed a map of it in her mind are the biggest threats to Andrea Hewitt becoming New Zealand’s first female triathlon medallist at an Olympics. Hewitt is one of the athletes to beat with consistent performances in the past year, carving one and a half minutes off her average 10km run over the last three years. However, several athletes may benefit more from the flat track in London, threatening her medal chances. Hewitt (ranked 1 in the world) and Brit Helen Jenkins (2) are the top two triathletes in the world but Jenkins has the advantage of almost living in the Hyde Park venue, committing every nuance to memory during years of training. She won the practice event there last year.

By Andrew Alderson | Email Andrew

A Travel Manual For Cologne

Cologne may be the four most populated cities in Germany. Today the city is actually a beautiful cultured destination with great leisure facilities, pubs and retailers. Even so, during WWII, Cologne was heavily bombed and damaged. Following years of restoration operate it has been rebuilt to portray the great historic Roman city it use to become.

Travelling to Cologne
Flying will be the recommended alternative of transport because the city has Kln/Bonn Konrad Adenauer Airport positioned 10km in the centre. Also, for folks arriving from nations which might be outside Europe, Frankfurt Airport may be the closest and provides transfers for the 200km journey. Trains and big roads make it easy to get for the city by way of other approaches.

Accommodation in Cologne
Hotels would be the most popular option of accommodation in Cologne. Nevertheless, test for the festival dates as this may seriously have an effect on the availability of rooms. Hotels are great because they supply diverse classes of rooms and are conveniently situated around the city.

A Short Historical past of Cologne
Cologne features a vast historical past as it is the eldest city in Germany. The city has wonderful significance in Roman Historical past as it is one particular of four sanctified cities that formed the north corner spot in the Empire.

On the starting of the thirteenth century Cologne was renowned for currently being the biggest fortified city on the planet. Nevertheless, it has been changed about a whole lot considering that then as 90% of Cologne was destroyed throughout WWII.

City Attractions and Sights
Since the heavy bombing in WWII, restoration efforts have observed the city burgeon in to the historic Roman centre that it used to be. The Cologne Cathedral (Klner Dom) that was initially established in 1248 was rebuilt to its previous state. It’s an essential feature with the city and one of the worlds most impressive Cathedrals.

If you are considering museums then head for the Aldstadt city’s most renowned museums are this sort of because the Museum Ludwig. For rest verify out Claudius Spa that is certainly found in the Rheinpark area despite the fact that, you will need a vehicle to produce the journey.

Shopping in Cologne
Cologne includes a wonderful selection of stores that cater for everybody’s needs. Probably the most popular purchasing areas are inside the centre in which there are numerous huge. Other smaller streets that head out from the centre have more special stores and indoor markets. The buying places are sectioned off for pedestrians, attractive and effectively laid out.

Food and Drink
Cologne has an excellent range of leading high quality restaurants that provide all varieties of international food. You will find also several attractive cafes and bars at the same time as all takeaway choices.

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