Rio Olympics: New Zealand's golden waterworld

11:31 am on 18 August 2016

Opinion - New Zealand's gold rush at Rio has come on the water and Jamie Wall has a few ideas for some more water-based sports to bulk out our medal count.

Mahe Drysdale and his daughter Bronte after his Olympic win.

Mahe Drysdale and his daughter Bronte after his Olympic win. Photo: AFP

Back in the old days there were two ways to mine for gold - you could either do it on land or down on the water. At the Olympics it's no different, but New Zealand's gold rush has come exclusively in the latter category. So, should we concentrate on water-based sports from now on?

Right now, we're sitting on four gold medals from Rio. Unless runner Nick Willis can produce something incredible, that total will probably remain unchanged. All four of the golds have come on the water: Mahe Drysdale and Eric Murray and Hamish Bond in the rowing, Lisa Carrington in the canoe sprint and Blair Tuke and Peter Burling sailing in the men's 49er class. As is their custom, the rowers managed to do it while not even looking at the finish line.

But let's not let the dominance of water-based sports lead to a cut in funding to others. Instead, let's lobby for more aquatic events unique to New Zealand that we can dominate in the future.

Let's add these sports to the Olympics:

Deep sea diving - William Truebridge recently set a world record for free-diving to a depth of 102m. It looks cool and can be practised at home in a bath by aspiring youngsters.

Nuclear protesting - Ever since the 1980s we've been world leaders at this often dangerous pursuit. From warships to weapons tests, Kiwis have been at the forefront of getting out and having our voices heard. If turned into a sport, nuclear protesting could be judged for picket sign style points, general disruption caused and catchiness of singing and chanting. A showdown against the French would be an ultimate grudge match.

Catching island sized fish - Aotearoa can claim to have the original world champion in the 'Grandfather's Jaw Bone' category of this sport.

Doing bombs off bridges - A real grassroots sport practised all over the country in the summer, this could really add another dimension to the Games. Water displacement is the key feature of this event, as well as the ability of supporters to yell 'cheehoo!'.

America's Cup yacht racing - Well, at least we'd win silver.

The irony of the water quality in Rio being such an issue surely can't have been lost on our gold medalists. Despite the inherent health risks and dodging of garbage, our oarsmen and paddlers have made their way to the top of the podium, bringing national glory.

Now, just imagine the feeling kids will get when our first bridge-bombing gold medalist is crowned in four years. C'mon NZ Olympic Committee, let's make it happen.

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