Record Rio haul highlights NZ sports year
A glut of Olympic and Paralympic medals, a young boxing world champ and a record-breaking rugby team provide the indelible Kiwi sporting moments of 2016.
29 December 2016
KIWI SPORTING HIGHS
New Zealand's 18 medals are easily a record, even if most are of the minor variety. All four golds come on the water - to rowers, sailors and a canoeist who were firm gold medal favourites.
OLYMPICS - ROWING/CANOEING
Mahe Drysdale wins the closest finish in Games history, pipping Croat Damir Martin by the radius of a gold medal. In contrast, Eric Murray and Hamish Bond go back-to-back with another effortless pairs triumph. Other rowers don't hit expectations but Rebecca Scown and Genevieve Behrent claim a pairs silver.
On the same stretch of water, defending champion Lisa Carrington crushes her sprint kayak rivals over 200m. The pursuit of a Rio double reaps a bronze over 500m.
Slalom paddler Luuka Jones makes history with a silver in her third Olympic campaign.
OLYMPICS - SAILING
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke dunk the other 49er crews in Guanabara Bay, turning London silver into gold with two races to spare. There's silver for two women's crews - Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie (470) and Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (49erFX) - while Sam Meech snares a Laser bronze.
Valerie Adams comes within a throw of becoming New Zealand's first champion at three different Games. Returning from multiple surgeries, Adams dominates the shot put competition until a final-round bomb from American Michelle Carter relegates her to silver.
Just as meritorious are bronze medals to evergreen 1500m runner Nick Willis, breakthrough teenage pole vaulter Eliza McCartney and shot put powerhouse Tom Walsh. Walsh also wins the world indoor title and finishes a record-breaking year as Diamond League champion.
OLYMPICS - OTHER SILVER LININGS
Trap shooter Natalie Rooney blasts her way to New Zealand's first medal at Rio and proves it is no fluke months later with victory at the World Cup final.
New Zealand claim a first women's rugby medal although it's not the gold they crave, beaten in the final by Australia.
The men's sprint track cycling team of Eddie Dawkins, Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster, twice break the old Olympic record time but still can't stop Great Britain.
Lydia Ko is second behind Korean Inbee Park in Rio, part of a roller-coaster year for the world No.1. She notches four wins, including a second career major at the ANA Inspiration. Waning form results in a late-year ditching of her coach, caddie and clubs.
New Zealand's Rio haul of 21 medals, including nine gold, is hailed. Sophie Pascoe becomes the most decorated Kiwi Paralympian, adding three golds to her swimming career stockpile, while flamboyant sprinter Liam Malone bursts onto the scene with twin golds.
The All Blacks rampage through 2016 aside from a historic loss to Ireland in Chicago. Before that, they break the world record for successive tier one wins (18), playing a majestic brand few thought possible following the retirement of several greats.
Beauden Barrett stands alone as their best player, having already been prominent for the Hurricanes in their maiden Super Rugby triumph.
The rapid ascension of Joseph Parker continues all the way to a world championship heavyweight title following a tense points win over Mexican Andy Ruiz in Auckland. Questions remain over the quality of the unbeaten 24-year-old and what he has achieved but his profile is starting to soar.
Hayden Paddon and co-driver John Kennard become the first Kiwis to win a World Rally Championship round, in Argentina, on the way to placing fourth overall.
Shane van Gisbergen breaks a 25-year Kiwi drought by winning the Australian V8 Supercars series crown in a Holden.
Steven Adams moves into a different stratosphere to other well-paid New Zealand athletes, signing a four-year $US100 million ($NZ144m) NBA deal with Oklahoma City Thunder. It's a reward for his potential and improving on-court output.
George Bennett is 10th in the Tour of Spain, the best performance by a Kiwi in any Grand Tour. He's also competitive in the Tour de France.
A series of off-field incidents harm the image of the national sport. Most notable is the treatment of a stripper at a Chiefs' season-ending function, the fallout to which is handled clumsily by rugby bosses.
All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith falls from grace when caught in a tryst with a mystery woman in a disabled toilet at Christchurch Airport.
Batting great Martin Crowe dies of cancer.
The Black Caps largely struggle following the retirement of Brendon McCullum, who smashes Test cricket's fastest century in his final appearance, a loss to Australia in Christchurch.
Australia hold the whip hand once again, heading off the Silver Ferns in the early-season Quad series and then later in the Constellation Cup.
New Zealand's teams are also shut out of the final in the last edition of the trans-Tasman league.
A decent Breakers NBL season ends with a capitulation against Perth in the grand final. The Tall Blacks and Tall Ferns miss Olympic qualification.
The under-performing Warriors miss the play-offs for a fifth straight year. A low point is six players banned for mixing prescription medication with energy drinks. Coach Andrew McFadden is demoted at season's end, replaced by Stephen Kearney.
David Kidwell replaces Kearney as coach of a Kiwis side who crash to four losses to Australia, including a thrashing in the Four Nations final.
The Phoenix slump to second-last for 2015-16. Their ponderous start to the following season prompts a farewell from seasoned coach Ernie Merrick.
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