LockerRoom

Comm Games: ‘it’s all over now’ cheat sheet

After 11 days of wall-to-wall sport and drama, LockerRoom editor Suzanne McFadden hands out gongs to New Zealand’s sportswomen (and TVNZ...).

Best performers

The Black Sticks, for finally making it to the top step of the dais at any kind of Games. As heart-stopping as it seemed, their victory in the semi-final shoot-out was ingenious, and their confidence and composure in the final overwhelmed defending champions Australia, 4-1.

Games highlights for the Black Sticks include keeper Sally Rutherford conceding just one goal, veteran Anita McLaren returning to score her 100th goal, and Olivia Merry’s potent penalty corner drag flick. Leading by example, captain Stacey Michelsen reinforced why she’s repeatedly voted one of the best hockey players in the world, and why she was bestowed the honour of carrying the New Zealand flag in the closing ceremony.

The Black Ferns for a gold medal won in golden-try extra time. The great Kiwi-Aussie rivalry that once dominated world netball, now belongs to women’s sevens rugby.

Kelly Brazier’s shattering 80-metre solo run that sealed the deal for the Ferns, 17-12, over world champions Australia , won’t be forgotten for years to come. Remarkable for a team who were kept in quarantine right up until the tournament by a case of the mumps, and sweet revenge for their loss to Australia in the Rio Olympics final.

Joelle King, whose glittering collection of three medals comes exactly a year after she almost gave up on her squash career.

With a new coach and renewed purpose, King followed up her singles gold and mixed doubles bronze with victory on the final day in the women’s doubles final, with Amanda Landers-Murphy. Both women played every single day of these Commonwealth Games. Today King is on her way to her next tournament, the lucrative El Gouna in Egypt.

And opening ceremony flagbearer Sophie Pascoe for giving all she had to win double gold in the pool, but making it clear this was just part of her grand plan for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.  

Under performers

The true disappointment of these games was the Silver Ferns. Some grave days lie ahead for Netball New Zealand, as the sport attempts to unravel where it all went wrong, and then pull the  team out of the deepest hole they’ve fallen into.

Losing to Jamaica 60-55 in the bronze medal play-off was the final mortification for the Ferns, but their loss to Malawi in pool play remains the most humiliating.

Captain Katrina Grant says the commitment of the Ferns can't be questioned. “We came here to win a gold medal. We didn’t even win a medal which is really, really hard." But her next statement was telling: “We haven’t had the right direction over the last few months.”

Calls to replace coach Janine Southby, whose coaching success rate sits just above 50 percent, gain new vigour. A review will decide her fate, but the results of the past 10 days are clear writing on the wall.

Other issues to be addressed – why was the shooting so poor (71 percent accurate against Jamaica), and how, in six months, did they lose their self-belief?

Bravest endeavours

Boxer Troy Garton, who’s about to go under the surgeon's knife on the significant knee injury she carried right through the Games. Garton managed to keep mum about the complete tear of her right ACL before she left for the Gold Coast, and she pushed through the intense pain barrier to reach the semi-finals. It encapsulated an historic performance by the New Zealand boxing team - their three bronze the first medals won by Kiwi women boxers at a Commonwealth Games.

Alana Barber, for battling on as she cramped up in the final stretch of the women’s 20km walk, and winning silver. Her wide-eyed joy at the finish-line was sublime.

And golden hammer thrower Julia Ratcliffe, and triple-medal cyclist Natasha Hansen, for outstanding results after overcoming significant injury problems just to get to these Games.

Heart-breakers

Laurel Hubbard, whose grisly elbow injury not only cost her a medal as favourite in the 90+kg weightlifting division, but likely ended her career. Although the 40-year-old made headlines around the globe – for her gender as much as her distressing departure - she didn’t leave the Gold Coast on a bitter note. “The Commonwealth Games here are a model for what sport can, and should, be… without any doubt, they have lived up to the mantra of humanity, equality and decency.”

Siositina Hakeia, who had the discus bronze medal swiped away from her at the end of the final round, finishing fourth in the Commonwealth for a second time.

Best in a supporting role

Tina Ball, the five-foot-nothing coach of super-heavyweight lifter David Liti, who kept her composure when Liti was timed out on his second attempt at the snatch in the 105kg+ division. A world weightlifting record-holder in her own right, Ball encouraged her young protégé not to worry, and he coolly hoisted his way to a shock gold.

Most frustrating

By a home straight, this gong goes to TVNZ. While those on the ground on the GC did a sterling job, those in the control room back here fell annoyingly short. They were champions at going to an ad break at a crucial moment, showing the same event on two of their three TV channels, and for failing to cover some of the best moments - like Jo Edwards’ third Commonwealth Games gold in the bowls singles, and all but the final points of King’s thrilling squash singles victory.

Favourite quote

"I don't know anybody else who's tried to come back to a power sport this quickly after having to get baby out of the sunroof, but hey, I am here and it worked out." Dame Valerie Adams, winner of a fifth Commonwealth medal in shotput, on the trials and rewards of returning to almost-the-top six months after a caesarean birth.

"I've left my heart and soul out there, and hopefully I can inspire any mums out there who want to take up sport, please do."

Final medal tally

Gold 8   Silver 9   Bronze 8

(In total New Zealand won 46 medals on the GC – one more than in Glasgow four years ago. Two of those medals were won by mixed teams).

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