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London Olympics Wrap Up

Olympic Games – 3-12 August 2012

Valerie Adams with Silver

Valerie Adams with Silver

Monday 6 August: Valerie Adams was unable to match the power of arch rival Nadzeya Ostapchuk in the defence of her Olympic crown in the shot put.

Update: Adams wins Gold after Ostapchuk tests positive
Update: Valerie Adams Receives Gold Medal

Adams had to settle for the silver medal as the Belarusian banged out a great series of four throws over 21 metres.

The first round had Adams ahead with 20.61m to Ostapchuk’s opening attempt of 20.01m. But then the onslaught came from the 2005 world champion with 21.31m, 21.36m, 21.15m and 21.32m. Adams could only respond with a 20.70m in round three.

“Unfortunately it didn’t come together, I put my heart out there trying, but unfortunately I’ve walked away with a silver, it was Ostapchuk’s day and that’s life, its sport,” said a tearful Adams.

“It’s her day – good for her. I had to concern with what I was doing and that’s what I was doing. I’m very disappointed to be quite honest. I’m happy with winning a medal for New Zealand to also get athletics on to the medal tally.

“It wasn’t Val’s competition today, my aggressiveness wasn’t there like it used to be I left my heart out there trying to find the aggressiveness in me and it just didn’t come together,” she said.

Adams said that she was extremely grateful for the support that she has had.

“I feel very blessed and I feel very humble by the support that I get from the people of New Zealand I’m just very disappointed in myself and I just really wanted to give them more and give it more. I’ve trained really hard, I’ve been in Switzerland for such a long time, but you know I tried and I can’t say I didn’t try, but we won a silver medal and you have to be happy with that.”

Lucy Van Dalen won her way into the semi-finals of the 1500m after drawing the fastest of the three heats run and qualifying as one next six fastest from the heats.

Van Dalen finished eighth in the first heat in 4m 7.04s.

Apart from receiving a check with 200m remaining Van Dalen said that it was a strong race.

“I felt really good out there, the last 200m was a little bit pushy and shovey and so they got away from me a little bit,” she said.

Van Dalen said the atmosphere of competing in front of 80,000 was amazing.

“I came out and then my family and friends were like cheering out my name and I saw them, it was really cool, it was so amazing I really made sure I took in the moment as well as focussing on my race,” said Van Dalen.

Tuesday 7 August: Silver medallist from the Beijing Olympic Games Nick Willis could only manage ninth in the 1500m this time round in London.

In what Willis described as heartbreaking and embarrassing he recorded 3m 36.94s when he was unable to respond when the accelerator was applied by Taoufik Makhloufi of Algeria who went on to win in 3m 34.08s. American Leonel Manzano was second in 3m 34.79s with Abdalaati Iguider of Morocco third in 3m 35.13s.

Willis said he felt he was in the perfect position going into the final lap.

“I felt like I gotten the perfect opportunity on the inside, the plan was to conserve as much energy the first two laps as possible and then find a gap when it appeared. Everyone else moved wide and I managed to scoot up on the inside and felt like I was in the perfect position with 500m to go, but when the pace picked up and I went with it that was the extension of my fitness as to what my legs could do today.

“So when they finally went I knew I was muscling it from a long way out and it’s just really heartbreaking when you’ve put in so much work all year,” he said.

Willis was aware of the number of New Zealanders who were watching back home while having breakfast.

“So many people stayed back from the start of their work day to watch that and to not be able to come through on the day that mattered most was quite frustrating – I just had nothing left,” he added.

Willis said he wasn’t really watching the leader.

“I was just trying to go as fast as I could and I had nothing, guys were flying by me, it was very reminiscent of the world championships last year,” he said.

“Two and a half weeks ago I ran the best time of my life finishing much faster than I did today running six seconds slower so obviously something wasn’t right, I felt really tired maybe I didn’t prepare well enough for running three rounds, and perhaps having to run a 3m 34s semi-final.

“I was just a bit embarrassing, I shouldn’t be embarrassed because it is the Olympic final, something I dreamed of as a kid, but knowing that I came in with such good credentials – probably talked a little too much as well, came back to bite me in the arse.”

Willis said that he wants to keep going for at least another four years, in the 1500m and not move up to the 5000m.

“I don’t want to move up to the 5000m as you have to base yourself at altitude and that’s something I don’t want to do. I’m still improving in the 1500m, just not today.”

Wednesday 8 August: Stuart Farquhar only needed one throw to sweep into the final of the javelin competition with a superb launch of the spear out to 82.32m.

Farquhar was the sixth best qualifier for the final on Saturday evening (6.20am Sunday NZ time). Vitezslav Vesely of the Czech Republic had the best throw of 88.34m from the two qualifying groups.

“To nail it in on the first one is a huge relief. I came into the competition quite nervous, which I expected. I had heaps of confidence and I just went in and nailed it in the first round,” said a pleased Farquahr.

“I felt really confident, I’ve been having the last four or five throwing sessions really relaxed and really good and I’m just carrying on that momentum and it came out in the first round, which is great.”

“I can now shut up shop and sort of focus on the next comp which is the final.”

“The build up has gone well, I had a lot of ups and downs since I threw 86 metres earlier on in the season but I’m coming right now which is the plan in the end.

I’m feeling close to 86 metre form. The javelin is a sort of fine tuning technical event and my technique is getting really good now. I just need to get that power I’ve got right into that technique – so anything could happen.”

Lucy Van Dalen finished 11th in the first semi-final of the 1500m in 4m 6.97s and did not advance to the final.

She was still smiling as she came through the media mixed zone.

“I had such a blast and I’m really pleased how I performed, I may have missed the final but my goal coming here was to get to the semis and I think running fast times back to back was really good for me at this stage of my career, so I’m really pleased as to how it went,” she said.

“I have gained so much experience and I loved every minute of it.

It was great to run in front of so many people. It is such a crazy atmosphere here at the Olympics.

I had to try and stay focussed, coming out on to the track and doing a few stride outs before the race is something I’ll always remember, it’s so amazing, I just love it. I just tried to stay on the pack, we were going pretty fast, and for me it’s best just to hang on, unfortunately they went really fast on the last lap and my legs felt like lead. I just tried as hard as I could, that’s as fast as I could go today. I’m stoked with how it all went.

I want to move closer to home and be a professional runner, I’m really excited about that.

My sister Holly and I will be in Rio,” she added.

Brent Newdick ended day one of the decathlon competition in 16th place with 4104 points. His performances were 100m 11.10s (-0.2) 838, long jump 7.36m (+1.1) 900, shot put 15.09m PB 795, high jump 1.96m 767, 400m 50.22s 804.

His overall placing went from 22 to 15, 11, 11 and 16.

“Really the last 100m of the 400m took its toll on me. I guess that’s what happens on a long day – I felt like I wasn’t going to go anywhere after 300m, with still 100m to go so I just dug deep and finished.

Placings on day one don’t mean much all that counts is where you come after day two.

I’m just short of my day one total when I did my personal best – so we are right on track for that. I’m pleased with the shot put PB; I’ve been waiting to do 15 metres in comp the whole season and I finally nailed it and what better place than here. When I warmed up for the high jump I had a bit of a sore knee but I left that behind and cleared 1.96m. Everything else has been solid except for the 400m which isn’t the end of the world.

Thursday 9 August: Brent Newdick finished an outstanding 12th in the decathlon with a total score of 7988.

Coming into day two of the decathlon holding 16th position with 4104 points Brent Newdick lacked his usual fire over the 110m hurdles. He clipped eight of the hurdles on his way to a modest time of 15.02s for 847 points dropping him to 20th with 4951. He was well off his personal best in the hurdles of 14.38s.

In the discus Newdick was just over two metres short of his best with his opening throw of 46.15m. This gave him 791 for a total of 5742 improving his placing back to 16th.

In the pole vault Newdick started at 4.40m which he comfortably achieved in his first attempt. He passed at 4.50m, cleared 4.60m and 4.70m both on his second attempts. The bar was raised to 4.80m, five centimetres short of his personal best. Newdick missed at his three attempts going close in the third round, gaining the height but dragging the bar down with his legs on descent. The 4.70m produced 819 points with his cumulative total of 6561 maintaining 16th place.

In the javelin throw, Newdick was out to 54.99m, in round one. He improved to 59.82m in round two, a season’s best but four metres short of his personal best. His total heading into the final event of 7296 improved two placings to 14th.

Into the final event the 1500m Newdick was third from the pole in the first division. He settled into a steady pace which he held to the finish. He was fifth in 4m 38.20s, for 692 points, a season’s best time by eight seconds. His personal best is 4m 29.35s. Newdick finished a creditable 12th place with a total points score of 7988.

World record holder on 9039 Eaton Ashton of America won with the eighth highest points ever of 8869. World champion Trey Hardee was second with 8671.

Newdick, the Commonwealth Games decathlon silver medallist said that he was pretty happy with the end result.

“I only found out where I had finished after walking the whole lap, that I knew where I came, definitely happy with the placing,” he said.

When questioned as to not having a good start to day two, Newdick replied, “Well actually I didn’t make the best start to both days, so what I was expecting the way training was going – but I guess that’s decathlon, there’s ten events and you’ve got to stick at all ten and today I got slightly better throughout the day – nothing really went right but it was just solid all the way through,” he added.

“I definitely wanted to come top 16, that’s what New Zealand is all about and to prove that I was definitely worthy of being there. Never come to a world or Olympic games before and scored higher than 19th so 16th is going to be a good goal, but I had in my mind top ten would be awesome, so 12th I pretty close, not everything went right so I’m happy with 12th,” he said.

The 27 year old said that he lost some competition earlier this season.

“I had a little injury in my back during the European season, so I just came back to New Zealand and got it fixed in a week and got back training but I lost that competition phase,” he said.

“There was huge Kiwi support out there, people I didn’t know and a lot of family and friends that I did know.”

His long term goal is gold at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and Rio in 2016.

“Rio is going to be my best chance as I will be 31, and I’ve used this as a stepping stone,” he said.

Short term he has another decathlon in a month’s time in Talence France.

Saturday 11 August: Quentin Rew rose to the occasion in his first Olympics finishing a creditable 30th in a personal best time of 3h 55m 3s in the 50km race walk.

The 28 year old from Hastings walked consistently throughout with almost matching 5km splits of 23m 30s. His placing steadily improved from 62nd at 5km and then by three placings over each of the next 5kms to be 49th at half way in 1h 57m 58s. At 40km he was 36th which he held at 45km and then he came home in his fastest 5km split of 23m 19s picking up a further six placings in the process.

“It was a good time, about a four minutes PB, I felt I couldn’t have gone any faster – It’s about all I can ask for,” said Rew.

The 2005 and 2009 world champion Sergey Kirdyapkin of Russia won in an Olympic record of 3h 35m 59s, from Beijing Olympic Games bronze medallist Jared Tallent of Australia 3h 36m 53s and Si Tianfeng of China 3h 37m 16s who was fourth at the Daegu world champs.

As at the world championships in Daegu last year Rew set out at his own predetermined pace with the result that he was right at the back of the field from the start.

“I knew that a lot of guys would get a bit excited because it’s such a fantastic crowd and it’s so loud, there’s not a walking race like it and so it wasn’t surprising that after the first lap I was dead last, but I was still happy with my time.

“It’s just a case of trying to stay relaxed for the first 40km and then I knew that I’d be picking people up and I knew that people would come back to me and they did – so it was just really keep it all together.”

During the race Rew received two red cards, one for knees and the other for contact.

“I’m really pleased that I was able to finish the race, I was on two red cards after only 10km so really I genuinely thought I was toast, because it’s a long way to go without getting any more infringements, but there were a few wise heads in the crowd that were just reminding me of just the basics to do and I was able to concentrate on my technique and maybe it was something that actually helped me in the end.”

Rew said he was conscious of plenty of New Zealand support all around the course.

“It was brilliant absolutely brilliant – I had a few friends from Uni and from my Dunedin days and from my Wellington days and even a lot of people who didn’t know me at all. There were Kiwis on the course, there were Brits that were shouting ‘go Kiwi’ – it was just amazing.

“To come from a country where in each walking race there are more officials than walkers and more walkers than spectators, so it’s just a completely different experience.”

Rew said that after a bit of time off he will then start preparing for the world championships in Moscow next year.

World leader in the javelin throw earlier this year Stuart Farquhar finished ninth in the final at the London Olympics.

Farquhar who easily qualified for the final with just one throw of 82.32m, failed to match that with his best of 80.22m in the third round just missing on making the cut for the remainder of the competition. He struggled in the first two throws producing throws of 76.80m and 76.64m. After his third throw he was eighth but the next to throw German Tino Haber sneaked past Farquhar for the eighth spot with 81.21m.

An unexpected winner of the gold medal was 19 year old Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago with 84.58m, Oleksandr Pyatnytsya of Ukraine was second 84.51m and Antti Ruuskanen of Finland was third with 84.12m.

Farquhar said it was a bit of a lost opportunity to be amongst the medals.

“There was an opportunity there for me. But you’ve got to do the first thing and make the top eight which I missed out, so it was a bit disappointing, but I’m definitely carrying on,” said Farquhar.

“The first two I didn’t quite connect, I kind of rushed it a little bit in the delivery and had to work really hard in my third throw which wasn’t too bad. But then just a throw later ended up locking me into ninth.

“I felt good coming into the competition, felt relaxed and the body recovered well after qualifying so I was there to throw big. It was technique again, those sorts of things and timing and all that, it didn’t quite work today.

“It’s a bit disappointing, but it’s definitely a massive improvement on my last Olympics. The conditions weren’t ideal a lot of the throwers were struggling and as you can see 84 metres won it. It was quite a strong head wind for us guys but it made the competition really close, first place through to ninth was only four metres or so, it was a really tight competition,” he added.

As far as the Olympic experience was concerned Farquhar’s first goal was to make the final.

“It is always a really hard thing to do, and I managed to do that, my next goal was to make the top eight and after that was to get into the medals.

“I’ve improved, I’ve gotten better and I have had a really enjoyable Olympics. Coming ninth in the end – I’m actually quite happy with that,” he said.

As to the future Farquhar said that he is just taking it a year at a time.

“I’m definitely going to Moscow world champs next year, so that’s what I’m working on,” he said.

He said that throwing 86.31m earlier this year was encouraging.

“The 86 metres was in good conditions, I’ve got the ability, I know that it’s just the technique and getting things right on the day and you can produce those sorts of results,” he concluded.

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