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Reasons for Rio optimism

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 16/08/2016 Sean Martin

Suddenly things are looking a lot brighter for New Zealand's's medal hopes in Rio.

After rowers and cyclists failed to reap the number of medals that had been hoped for, the cupboard was looking a little bare after nine days of competition.

But after the Black Sticks women overwhelmed Australia to book a place in the semi-finals and Lisa Carrington powered down the canoe sprint course faster than any of her rivals the prospects were a lot rosier.

Then the New Zealand team co-captains Blair Tuke and Peter Burling showed why they are four-time world champions with a commanding display in challenging conditions to open up clear water between them and the rest of the field.

There are more in the medals mix on Guanabara Bay in the coming days with the sailing team well positioned to challenge their record of four medals in Barcelona 24 years ago.

The women's hockey team have never won a medal at the Games but came agonisingly close at London to play for the gold medal before losing a penalty shootout to the Dutch.

They went home from London with nothing in their luggage after being beaten in the bronze medal match are are determined to set things right.

"We don't want to go home with nothing this time," coach Mark Hager told the team post-match.

Carrington, who is seeking to do the double in the K1 over 200m and 500m, had little to say after reaching the final of the shorter event, but coach Gordon Walker believes she's better now than when she won four years ago.

"She's more complete. She was Olympic champion in London, so she was pretty good then, but you'd like to think there's been little improvements across the board."

While their rivals struggle in the light air, Burling and Tuke, showed their class to blow apart the field.

Three race finishes in the top three allowed them to build an 18-point gap between them and their nearest challengers.

"Three low scores and that's exactly what we wanted to get out of today. It felt like the boat was going really fast," said Burling.

Molly Meech and Alex Maloney are also handily placed in second in the 49erFX class while three other crews race for a medal on Tuesday.

Oh, and Lydia Ko arrived and told reporters she's wondered what it would be like to win an Olympic medal.

She may find out on Saturday.

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