Ringing the highlights: RNZ recaps Rio

4:37 pm on 23 August 2016

Rio 2016 Olympics - The RNZ sports team - Stephen Hewson, Barry Guy, and Gael Woods in Rio, and Denise Garland at home in New Zealand - recount the good, the bad, the ugly and the magical of the Rio Olympics...

Barry Guy, Stephen Hewson and Gael Woods in the main press centre.

Barry Guy, Stephen Hewson and Gael Woods in the main press centre. Photo: RNZ

Most memorable sporting moment of these Games?

STEPHEN: Fiji winning the rugby sevens was a top achievement. Yes, Usain Bolt is the superstar and won his third straight 100m and 200m titles but Fiji winning the Pacific's first ever gold medal is a milestone moment.

Fiji's Leone Nakarawa celebrates scoring a try in the men’s rugby sevens gold medal match between Fiji and Britain during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Deodoro Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 11, 2016

Fiji's Leone Nakarawa celebrates scoring a try in the men’s rugby sevens gold medal match between Fiji and Britain during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Deodoro Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 11, 2016 Photo: AFP

BARRY: Unfortunately for me it would have to be the men's hockey team's loss to Germany in the quarter-finals. Most memorable for all the wrong reasons.

The Black Sticks were up 2-nil with 3 minutes to play but went on to lose 3-2 with the defending champions scoring twice in the last 45 seconds.

We were left stunned, shaking our heads wondering what had just happened. The feeling afterwards reminded me of a similar feeling following the All Blacks 2007 World Cup defeat to France.

GAEL: Being in the Olympic Stadium to see Usain Bolt collect this third gold medal in the men's 100m.

It really felt like a gilt-edged piece of Olympic history. The roar of the crowd when the hugely likeable Jamaican showman lined up in the starting blocks was deafening and a definite moment of hairs standing to full attention.

The occasion was perhaps made even more memorable by the contrasting reaction of the 70,000 spectators to Justin Gatlin, whose controversial inclusion in the US track team after two doping offences was met by loud boos which reverberated around the arena.

And for my most memorable moment involving the New Zealand team, I would have to go with Mahe Drysdale's back-to-back gold medal in the men's single sculls, in a race decided by even less than a heartbeat.

If it had anything to with luck, good fortune couldn't have smiled on a nicer guy.

Mahe Drysdale in the men's single sculls at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Mahe Drysdale in the men's single sculls at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Photo: PhotoSport

DENISE: Back here in New Zealand, the most memorable moment for me was Mahe Drysdale defending his Olympic title in the men's single sculls by little more than a lick of paint.

I had set my alarm for the 1.30am race, not wanting to miss Drysdale winning back-to-back golds despite being due to start work at 6am.

Within the space of seven minutes, my emotions swung from nervous excitement, to joy as Drysdale took the lead, then sheer horror as Croatia's Dimitri Martin gained on him, to a gut-wrenching disappointment when Drysdale crossed the line in what looked like second place.

But the elation that came when the photo showed he'd pipped Martin by mere millimetres was worth the see-sawing of emotions, and the tiredness during my shift later that day.

Most disappointing Olympic Games result?

STEPHEN: From a New Zealand perspective it's a toss up between the men's rugby sevens side and the equestrian team, with the sevens possibly edging out equestrian in the disappointment stakes.

They simply never fired a shot. Beaten by Japan in their opening match things never improved and to be honest never looked like improving.

The three day eventing team let gold slip from their grasp, Mark Todd and Leonidas could afford to drop a rail in his showjumping round but four came down reminiscent of Spinning Rhombus in Barcelona in 1992 and not only did gold disappear but also the shot of any other medal.

New Zealand's Eddie Dawkins, Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster compete in the men's Team Sprint qualifying track cycling event.

Photo: AFP

BARRY: How disappointed can you be when you win a silver medal? However I did think the New Zealand men's sprint cycling team had the chance to cap off a great few years on the world stage with victory in Rio and it looked on.

An Olympic record in the earlier rounds propelled them into the final, only to be undone by Great Britain who produced another Olympic record in the medal race.

Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins rode their best and produced great times, but I felt a win here would have given those boys the full recognition they deserved.

Great result, but I wanted more.

Mark Todd's Leonidas II knocked down four rails in the show jumping.

Mark Todd's Leonidas II knocked down four rails in the show jumping Photo: AFP

GAEL: The New Zealand equestrian eventing team's fourth placing after coming oh so close to gold.

By the time the great and eight-time Olympian Sir Mark Todd entered the showjumping arena, New Zealand were on track for gold.

Todd could have afforded to knock over one rail and still the team would have walked away with a gold medal, which would have been Todd's third gold and sixth Olympic medal.

Disappointingly, it wasn't to be and Todd ended up knocking down four rails.

Todd was more philosophical than most - his typically wry shrug-of-the-shoulders acceptance of what had happened made it possibly even more poignant.

DENISE: The hockey. Both the men's and the women's.

I wasn't expecting the New Zealand men to get a medal before the Games started, but they looked like semi-final shoo-ins when they were 2-0 up against Germany with five minutes to go in the quarters.

It was heart-breaking to watch the Black Sticks men let the victory slip through their hands after playing so well for 55 minutes of the game, with that third German goal in the final two seconds leaving me whimpering in the corner.

Black Sticks

Black Sticks Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The pain of the Black Sticks women's loss to Germany in the Bronze medal play-off was plainly felt by everyone in the team in Rio, but the disappointment rippled back here in New Zealand too.

I was sure they wouldn't let themselves leave another Olympics without a medal after they came fourth in London four years ago, but as they found out the hard way, even a strong performance on the field isn't enough when you can't find the back of the net.

What will you miss?

STEPHEN: The winter temperatures. As I write it's 35 degrees at the athletics track ... sure beats a Wellington winter southerly.

BARRY: I agree with Stephen, the weather isn't bad and it's nice to mix with other cultures. It's a good reality check to remind us how the rest of the world lives.

Rio olympic rings at night

Photo: Photosport

GAEL: Staying in an apartment just a few Carnival floats short of the stunning Cocacabana beach.

What a place, and with the Olympic Beach Volleyball Stadium right on the beach, it became Bossa Nova central.

Even if I had to have that song an insistent refrain in my head for almost three weeks, the sheer exuberance and vibrancy of the Copa couldn't be beaten.

I will also miss the little signs pointing out that topless bikinis could not be considered "proper dress". Who'd have thought?

"Her name was Lola...." - Get out of my head Barry Manilow!

DENISE: The Olympic buzz around the office. It's one of the few times my non-sports colleagues let me talk sport at them. And they even appear mildly interested.

What won't you miss?

STEPHEN: Being greeted every morning by the ever-present bouquet of raw sewage wafting off the nearby lagoon as I got off the bus at the Main Press Centre.

BARRY: Being awake as many hours as I am each day - my body was designed to spend more time lying down asleep.

Also, I'm not a great queuer. I don't think many New Zealanders are. What, really, do we have to queue up for in New Zealand.

Let me tell you, at these Olympics we've queued up for most things, including security, buses, eating and going to the loo.

GAEL: The transport. A three-hour taxi ride in traffic congestion that suggested a mass evacuation after an unknown end-of-the-world disaster, the unreliable media bus service, the utter frustration of being sent on what my Google translation of English into Portuguese describes as "um ganso selvagem", by smiling volunteers who just wanted to be helpful.

But those wild goose chases caused maximum stress.

DENISE: The broken sleep. Being a sports fan during the Olympics is hard work when you're setting your alarm for multiple times during the night, particularly when you're starting work before 9am.

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