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Buddha’s Blog: Commonwealth Games #5

HOCKEY IS THE WINNER IN THE END

Overall Hockey was the major winner at the Commonwealth Games. In articles on Stuff, The Herald and Hindustan Times Hockey was named the “Most compelling Sport” of the Commonwealth Games.

The venue was named the “Best Venue” of all the sports, with the “Nicest Stadium” and overall had the “Best atmosphere”.

The best game/event/spectacle of the Commonwealth Games was the India – Pakistan pool play clash. The game was at full capacity with 16,000 screaming fans packed into the Dhyan Chand National Hockey Stadium. Hockey consistently saw large crowds even for non-Indian games which was a complete reversal of the World Cup earlier in the year.

Even the non-hockey public in India and around the World were caught up in the emotion and class of the game. India eventually ran out 7-4 winners.

Then to top things off both the Men’s and Women’s teams medalled at the XIX Commonwealth Games. This was the first major medals for the women (1998 Bronze Kuala Lumpur) and the men (2002 Silver in Manchester).

This was a great achievement for Hockey in NZ and to have both teams do so well bodes extremely well for the future of the sport especially leading into the 2012 London Olympics.

!!BRONZE!!

The Blackstick’s Men righted some previous wrongs against England by taking an unassailable 5-3 lead in a penalty shoot out to win Bronze. It was all smiles for the NZ boys where the English were left to rue consecutive 4th place finishes at the last 2 Commonwealth Games.

The scores were tied 3-3 after regulation time and through Golden Goal Extra-time, before leading to a penalty shoot-out.

Goalkeeper Kyle Pontifex was the hero of the moment as he saved a penalty from English player Scott Dixon.

In an open game in which there was plenty of goalmouth action at both ends, Pontifex had his best performance of the tournament, making a string of saves, both from penalty corners and open play.

It was huge for the boys to finish 3rd and avoid the dreaded 4th place. In the end the team was rapt with its medal and pleased they had justified their third place seeding in the tournament.

THE END

Lastly thank you to everyone for all your emails and comments to the Men’s team throughout our Commonwealth Games campaign. We know we gave you some heart in the mouth moments none more so than our late equaliser against Canada.

But it was great to have so much support for such a big event and so far away from home. So from the Blacksticks men’s team we all THANK YOU!

In the end the boys were over the moon to come away with a Bronze Medal especially with beating England one of our biggest rivals and a team that we had not beaten since 2007.

Now it is time to relax with family and friends and enjoy and share our medal with everyone who helped us to achieve it!

Kind Regards,

Shea

Buddha’s Blog: Commonwealth Games #4

!!BLACKSTICKS WOMEN FIGHT IT OUT FOR GOLD!!

The Blackstick’s women were O for Awesome in their 1-0 semi-final win over South Africa yesterday.

They were extremely impressive with the way they took the game to South Africa and outplayed them in almost every area.

Beth Jurgeleit was outstanding in goal and 2 fantastic saves on the line from Emily Naylor kept the South Africans scoreless.

All the girls stuck to task and played well through out the game. It wasn’t until a 2nd half penalty corner that the NZ girls finally took the lead, with a corner break down that fell kindly to Clarisa Eshuis who coolly slotted the ball inside the near post!

The girls are assured of a medal their first major tournament medal since a Bronze medal in Kuala Lumpur 1998 and NZ Hockey’s first major tournament medal in 8 years when the Men won Silver in Manchester 2002.

This is a fantastic achievement for the girls and NZ Hockey. They have been the stand-out team of the tournament and the most consistent team here across all 10 teams.

The entire Blackstick’s Men’s team and the NZ Commonwealth Games team believe that the girls will take out Gold and topple the Australians in tomorrows final played at (13:00pm India Local Time, 20:30pm in NZ) I hope you are all watching!


THE BLACKSTICKS WOMEN EMBRACE AFTER THEIR HISTORIC 1-0 SEMI-FINAL WIN

!!BRONZE MEDAL HERE WE COME!!


KYLE PONTIFEX DEMANDING EXCELLENCE

For those of you who watched at home I am sure you would agree that a 2-6 defeat at the hands of defending champions and World No. 1 ranked Australia was not a fair reflection of the game.

For the entire 70 minutes we showed plenty of spirit in 40+ degree heat! We had an extremely good game-plan that threw the Aussies off balance and we took the game to them breaking through their much talked about press.

We let ourselves down in the small areas on the field. A few soft goals really let us down as at no stage can you be off your game against Australia and they proved this in a six-minute period just before half-time when they broke the 0-0 deadlock with 3 quick goals.

Even though we were down 0-4 midway through the 2nd half there was still belief in our side which hasn’t always been there in the past against Australia. Dean Cousins and Phil Burrows (2002 Commonwealth Games Silver Medallists) were instrumental in this area and they are both players when they say “come” everyone else naturally follows. This is a trait that is rarely found in people and I think our team are lucky to have the 2 of them.


EVERYONE NEEDS A RED HEAD IN THEIR TEAM

Due to this belief we rallied in the 2nd half and staged a late fight-back with goals to Blair Hilton and Phil Burrows and we had another effort controversially disallowed to put the score to 3-4. Everyone except for the ref thought that this was a goal.

The belief was certainly there and we pressed hard in the last 5 minutes to try and score the goals we needed. In doing this we promoted more men forward and were caught out twice late in the game to go down 2-6, an unjust score to our efforts in the match.

If we play like we did against Australia with our desire and commitment in the Bronze medal play-off I am sure we will take the match out regardless of who we play!

But for now it is time to relax by the pool, and enjoy our day off and hopefully see the girls pull off GOLD! We also have a quiz night tonight which is always a bit of a laugh!

Thanks to all those who send their wishes to the team, everyone really appreciates them!

Kind Regards,

Shea

Buddha’s Blog: Commonwealth Games #3

BLACKSTICK’S MEN & WOMEN INTO SEMI-FINALS ACTION

The Blackstick’s women made easy work on their route to the semi-finals than the men did. The women played extremely well all through pool-play to go through undefeated and top qualifier of their pool. They even outclassed the highly fancied English to comfortably win 4-1.

They have now set up a semi-final clash with South Africa today at 5:30pm (India local time). The Blackstick’s Men’s side wishes the girls all the best and we will be there today to support you in what will be a fantastic match!

GEMMA FLYNN IN ACTION AGAINST ENGLAND

BLACKSTICK MEN GO DOWN 5-3 TO ENGLAND

Our last 2 games have been interesting ones. We played poorly in most aspects against England as we have done in the last 3 encounters we have played them. They have the wood over us at the moment. It isn’t for our lack of effort but more of our application to our game plan that is letting us down.

On too many occasions we have let England get off to a good start and this has always made us play catch-up hockey. When you do this to the top 6 nations in the World you will always struggle.

BLAIR HILTON DISAPPOINTED TO NOT EARN A CORNER AGAINST ENGLAND

ANYONE NEED CPR?? HEART ATTACK 1 ALL DRAW WITH CANADA

It was dramatic scenes yesterday at the Dhyan Chand National Stadium as Hayden Shaw converted our fifth penalty corner with three minutes on the clock to earn a 1-1 draw and a semi-final berth against Australia tomorrow.

With 5 minutes on the clock we were forced to pull our goal keeper Kyle Pontifex as the match slipped away. We needed to draw or beat Canada to go through to the semi-final round.

We had missed our four earlier penalty corners, but Hayden Shaw cleverly faked his drag flick, swerved the oncoming Canadian runner and flicked home the crucial goal before kicking his stick into the air in delight.

HAYDEN SHAW CELEBRATES WITH THE BOYS AFTER SCORING A CRUCIAL GOAL

Canada’s tactics frustrated us from start to finish, but they played to their game plan and executed it extremely well. On most occasions they cleared the ball long and dead, or for 1 v 1 opportunities.

The game also played into their hands as they are supreme tight defenders when protecting a lead. They scored early and were able to sit back in defence to protect their lead. This was something that Canada did very well up until 3 minutes to go when we scored and could breathe a little easier!

Although it wasn’t the ideal result or game it was still uplifting to make it to the Commonwealth games medal-rounds!

Sorry to all those at home who watched for the heart-attack we almost gave you!

THE BIG ONE NZ vs. AUSTRALIA

vs 

We know that we let an opportunity slip against England but to still make a semi-final at the Commonwealth Games is a great achievement. But the job is only half done and all the boys are really excited about the prospects of tomorrow’s game (11am India local time) against Australia.

We have done the hard-work of making the semi-finals but now it is pulling it all together and stepping up individually and more importantly collectively in our performance to match it with and even better Australia.

In sport when you make it to one-off games anything can happen. France vs. NZ 2007 Rugby World Cup (Quarterfinal), NZ vs. Australia 2008 Rugby League World Cup (Final) and NZ vs. Australia 1976 Olympics Gold Medal match. All of these occasions have been when the underdog (by quite some way) has come to the fore and put out a performance of a lifetime to beat their more highly fancied opponents.

This happens all the time in sport and if we pull things together there is no reason why it can’t happen tomorrow.

If we get the ball in the circle we have World-class strikers in Simon Child, Nick Wilson and Phil Burrows and probably closest to the best corner battery in World Hockey with Hayden Shaw and Andrew Hayward capable of beating any keeper on their day.

In short we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. So bring it on!

MEDAL TALLEY

Position Country Gold Silver Bronze Points
1 Australia 61 38 37 296
2 India 29 22 22 153
3 England 26 45 32 200
4 Canada 22 12 25 115
5 South Africa 11 11 9 64
6 Nigeria 8 7 11 49
7 Malaysia 6 7 7 39
8 Kenya 6 4 4 30
9 Singapore 5 5 6 31
10 Samoa 3 0 1 10
11 New Zealand 2 16 5 43

Buddha’s Blog: Commonwealth Games #2

2 FROM 2 = 6 POINTS

Everything has been going to plan so far with 2 wins from 2 games. Our first game was against Trinidad & Tobago which we won 7-1.

STEVE EDWARDS FIGHTS FOR POSSESSION AGAINST TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

This game also marked Phil Burrows 250th test becoming the 2nd only New Zealander to reach this milestone after Ryan Archibald.

It only took Phil 10 years, four attempts and 250 matches to break a personal hoodoo of never winning a milestone match up until now. Phil had lost his 50th, 100th, 150th and 200th tests putting a small blight on an extremely decorated career.

PHIL BURROWS IN ACTION DURING HIS 250TH TEST MATCH

Trinidad & Tobago was a side that we didn’t know much about, but it was really important that we got off to a good start with trying to score as many goals as possible.

We scored 3 from 6 corners and 4 well constructed team goals. Andy Hayward and Blair Hilton both scored twice with Hayden Shaw, Hugo Inglis and Nick Haig scoring the other 3 goals.

This score proved to be a pretty good one as England only managed to beat Trinidad 4-0 giving us a 2 goal advantage over them.

4-2 VICTORY OVER SOUTH AFRICA

We targeted this game against South Africa as being a Quarter-Final for us as we knew it would be a tough encounter. We are ranked seventh in the world and South Africa 12th so we knew the match would be close.

We performed extremely well in the 1st half especially off turnover ball pretty much scoring or creating all of our chances from direct turnovers.

Hayden Shaw got us off to an ideal start scoring from a trade-mark drag-flick. Then a Phil Burrows special a minute later put us up 2-0.

South Africa got back to 2-1 but this goal was quickly cancelled out by our new player Steve Jenness. Nick Wilson then rounded off the scoring with a well taken reverse shot at goal to take us into half time at 4-1.

STEVE JENNESS CELEBRATES AFTER SCORING AGAINST SOUTH AFRICA

South Africa scored late in the 2nd half but the game was well and truly ours after our efforts in the 1st half.

Our remaining group B matches are against England and Canada.

Huge thanks go out to the Women’s Blacksticks and their coaching & support staff that came and supported us last night against South Africa.

The women have also been playing very well with 2 solid wins over Wales (5-1) and Malaysia (5-0). They have remaining games against Canada and England where one more win will put them into the medal round.

We have the next 2 days off with only a light training and pool recovery sessions planned. The pool complex is awesome it’s even a lot bigger and better than what was at Melbourne and Beijing.

THE SWIMMING COMPLEX IN THE VILLAGE

A lot of the training venues are also based inside the village including a gym, running track, wrestling & gymnastic complex and much more.

THE WRESTLING COMPLEX INSIDE THE VILLAGE

The overall security and village has been great. Everyone is having a great time and most of all having a great time while at the same time feeling safe.



SECURITY AND THE VILLAGE

THE BOYS LOOKING SHARP AT THE FLAG-RAISING CEREMONY

THE BOYS WITH THEIR COMERATIVE SIR EDMUND HILLARY SCARVES BEFORE THE OPENING CEREMONY

Buddha’s Blog: Commonwealth Games #1

The games have finally started with quite a few road bumps along the way. We have had quite a few injuries amongst our squad including Nick W (knee), Brad S (ankle), Simon C (back), Nick H (Knee) and Blair T (Back).

Most of the injuries have been minor although this meant we have struggled to put out 16 players in most of our warm-up games, including the game against Pakistan where we finished with only 12 fit players able to play.

Obviously most of this was precautionary as we need 16 fully fit players leading into the games. 15 out of our 16 players trained this morning so all is looking good for our first match against Trinidad and Tobago at 8:30am (India Local Time).

THE VILLAGE

The village is really nice it has a very similar lay-out to Beijing with housing towers set all through the village. The rooms are also really spacious and much nicer than we expected. It has been a really nice surprise to see how the village has turned out.

I think a lot of credit for this goes to our NZOC members who pushed for a very comfortable living environment. Including setting up a NZ lounge area with TV’s, Wii, board games and an endless supply of lollies and coffee (all an athlete needs).

The NZOC also chose the very appropriate NZ team icons/people that we take inspiration from in Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. All of our PEAK Commonwealth Games clothing is emblazoned with 29028 the height in feat of Mount Everest. This is very fitting as Sir Ed is one of our greatest sportsmen and I am sure all NZ athletes taking part in the Commonwealth Games will take inspiration from him in their respective events.

The food hall as always is a highlight with hundreds of things to choose from including an endless supply of drinks. All the boys walk back with at least 4 Powerades from every dining experience. Remember everything in the village is free ;)

Each dining experience is always an interesting one, as you see athletes from a wide range of sports from all over the World. We usually try to guess which sport certain athletes body types belong to; (tall = netballers, short = gymnasts, extremely muscular = weightlifters etc).

The village also has a lot to do in your down time with several games rooms with Pool, Fussball a Golf Simulator and hundreds of Commonwealth Games dedicated TV’s.

NZ FLAG RAISING & OPENING CEREMONY

As the NZ team we have had 2 team functions so far that have been good to mix in with the other athletes. The 2nd day we were here we had the raising of the NZ flag to signify the arrival of the NZ team and this also coincided with the announcing of the team flag-bearer for the opening ceremony. This went to Irene Van Dyk for all her amazing achievements in Netball.

Lastly the event that everyone can’t wait for is the opening ceremony. This is special for so many reasons as it is the opening to the games and it means that you have finally made it after all the hours of hard-work spent training to get to this moment.

It was an awesome occasion and the Indians did a remarkable job with timing, they closed down all of the roads and we were in and out of the stadium without any hassles. It was also cool how the athletes walked in earlier than usual where we were able to watch the ending to the opening which has never happened before.

We missed cued our seats as well, which ended up working out really well for us as we sat down right next to India and also right in front of all of the delegations from the Commonwealth Committee, Indian officials and Prince Charles.

I will be in touch soon with a new edition of Buddha’s Blog,

Regards,

Shea

P.S. Congratulations to the Women’s Blackstick’s who won 5-1 over Wales today!

Commonweath Games 2010

Hi All,

Thought I would update you on some of the going on’s at the commonwealth games. So far we have met Prince Charles, Camilla and Prince Edward. We (Australia) had our flag raising ceremony which was a spectacular of Indian culture. Last night we marched in the opening ceremony which was an amazing life experience with vibrant colours and dancing mixed in with a little bit of heat…

We are resting up today for our first game tomoza v Trinidad and Tobago.

Cheers

Toni Cronk

Two from Two

Two games down and the Hockeroos are in a great position at the world cup. Yesterday we beat India 6-3 and our first game was 2-1 against Japan. Some really good performances in the chilly Argentinian conditions. Today we will all rest up for our big game against the Dutch tomorrow. Usual plan on a rest day is to sleep in, have a few meetings, see the physio if necessary, get the goalie gear washed of course and then start looking towards the next game. Keep an eye out as it should be a tight battle.
Rach

4 Nations Update

After two days we are leading in the four nations tournament in Germany. Yesterday we beat Ireland 4-0 in quite a good match. Nic Arrold scored 3 goals which was a very good effort, with two of them being drag flicks straight over the top of the short Indian Keeper. Today we had another hat-trick in our 6-2 win against India. Megan Rivers scored 4 goals so Im not sure if its still called a hat trick or if she gets another name for such an achievement. It was very much an end to end game but we did well to score 6 goals past the indians tight defence. I only had a few saves to make but was beaten by a PC shot and a quick shot in the second half. The weather is still hard to believe. In the first game, at 7pm, I had trouble as I was looking into the sun, then today the girls we all getting some nice body suit tan lines from our afternoon game.

The tournament is set up really well with shops, a bar, activities and a dj. We have been spoilt with some beautful food at the ground, although somehow we manage to miss out on the big bratwurst sausages that the coaching staff demolish while we are warming down. I would have thought its on natural that we too would want to embrace that part of the german culture.

Last game tomorrow against Germany then we fly out to Ireland. Our game tomorrow is just before the England v Germany game at the world cup so we wont be surprised if no one comes to the game. Hopefully we can go and watch the last half in a pub someone.

Rach