Tokyo Olympics: Day-by-day guide to New Zealand's biggest medal chances

Put out the cat, turn off your phone and settle in, as these Kiwis chase Olympic medals in Tokyo over the next 16 days.

Sunday, July 25

Swimming - Lewis Clareburt, 400m individual medley final 1.30pm NZ

The 22-year-old is by far New Zealand's best prospect in the pool and arguably our greatest since Danyon Loader. A bronze medalist at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, the Wellingtonian again claimed bronze in 2019 at the world championships at Gwangju, South Korea.

Tuesday, July 27

Canoe Slalom - Luuka Jones, K1 semis 5pm & final 7:15pm NZ 

A surprise silver medalist at Rio 2016, Jones now can't fly under the radar. A bronze medal at the 2019 world championships in La Seu d'Urgell, Spain, leaves her with a good platform to build on.

More-recently, she's regularly been there or thereabouts at World Cup events.

Wednesday, July 28

Sevens - All Blacks Sevens, semis 2pm & final 9pm NZ

The current world series champions were underwhelming in sevens' debut at Rio, losing to Great Britain and Japan in pool play, before falling to eventual champions Fiji. More recently, they put out mixed-performances at last month’s Oceania tournament in Townsville.

They'll need big improvement in pool play to secure gold.

Tim Mikkelson in action for All Blacks Sevens
Tim Mikkelson in action for All Blacks Sevens.

Rowing - Women's & men's double sculls finals 12:18pm & 12:30pm NZ

Thirty-five-year-old Chris Harris and 23-year-old Jack Lopas are at different ends of their careers, but are a good chance in the men’s double sculls, especially with no clear frontrunners.

Harris has three world championship medals in the boat, while he and Robbie Manson were fifth at Rio. Lopas won the national single sculls title.

Hannah Osborne and Brook Donoghue could also make it onto the podium in the women's double, with the main pressure on Osborne, after the contentious decision to have her replace Olivia Loe, who helped Donoghue to two world titles. 

Thursday, July 29

Rowing - Women's pair final 12:30pm NZ

Forget Bond and Murray, these Games are all about Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast in the women's pair. World champions in 2017 and 2019, they replace Genevieve Behrent and Rebecca Scown, who secured silver at Rio five years ago.

Shooting - Natalie Rooney, women's trap final 5:30pm NZ

A surprise silver medalist at Rio, Rooney continues to fly under the radar. She's had an inconsistent few years for Rooney, who captured bronze at the 2017 Commonwealth championships and finished only seventh at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

NZ shooter Natalie Rooney
NZ shooter Natalie Rooney. Photo credit: Photosport

Friday, July 30

Rowing - Women's eight final 1:05pm NZ

New Zealand have only ever won one gold medal in the eight - that was the men's crew in 1972. With Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast on board, the women are favourites to win, although backing up the day after their pair final could be a challenge.

Rowing - Emma Twigg, women's single sculls final 12:33pm NZ

Games No.4 for Emma Twigg, though the number 'four' has unfortunately become synonymous with her performance. The veteran was pipped for the podium in London and Rio, and needs a medal in Tokyo to determine her legacy.

Saturday, July 31

Sevens - Black Ferns Sevens, semi 2pm & final 9pm NZ

The scars of Rio will come to the fore today. The NZ women are overwhelming favourites to take home gold, but the horrors of five years ago will no doubt run through their minds, even just for half a second.

There's hope they'll be able to overcome them - and archrivals Australia - to create new memories.

Sunday, August 1

Athletics - Dame Valerie Adams, shot put final 1:35pm NZ

Dame Val is never far from the medal talk, but she won’t be the favourite to claim a third Olympic gold. The Rio silver medalist will need to heave arguably her best throws in years, if she's to stand on top of the podium again - her current season's best of 19.75m would've placed fourth in 2016.

Sailing - Sam Meech, men's Laser medal race 5:33pm NZ

Meech hasn't competed since early 2020, but will still be determined to finish with a different colour medal from the bronze he claimed at Rio. One of the world's best in class, it'd be surprising if he can't at least make it onto the podium.

Laser sailor Sam Meech
Laser sailor Sam Meech. Photo credit: Photosport

Monday, August 2

Sailing - Alex Maloney & Molly Meech, 49erFX medal race 5:33pm NZ

Maloney and Meech will look to improve on their silver medal at Rio, although - as with a lot of athletes - COVID-19 and injuries mean they've sailed just one regatta in the last 18 months.

Sailing - Peter Burling & Blair Tuke, 49er medal race 6:33pm NZ

Burling and Tuke - need we say more? The defending Olympic champions, who also have won every world champs they’ve entered in since 2013, should once again stand atop the podium in Tokyo.

With a couple of America's Cups campaigns also under their belts, the trophy cabinet will need some extending.

Weightlifting - Laurel Hubbard, women’s +87kg 10:50pm NZ

Arguably New Zealand’s most-watched event in Olympic history. Hubbard's participation has been covered all over the world, with everyone seemingly having an opinion on her presence in Tokyo.

Regardless, Hubbard will be there. The categories have slightly changed since Rio, but Hubbard's personal best total of 285kg (snatch, plus clean & jerk) has her in serious medal contention.

Equestrians Jonelle & Tim Price
Equestrians Jonelle & Tim Price. Photo credit: Photosport

Equestrian - team & individual eventing showjumping final 11:45pm NZ

Excuse the atrocious puns and dad jokes in this one! The three-day competition wraps up today with the showjumping.

Husband and wife Tim and Jonelle ride into Tokyo ranked second and seventh in the world, and have consistently won some of the more prestigious five-star events around the world.

Jesse Campbell takes the reins for his first Games, with the trio a solid proposition of medalling, if they can reduce the horsing around.

Tuesday, August 3

Sailing - Josh Junior, Finn medal race 5:33pm NZ

Despite finishing third at this year's Gold Cup - the Finn class world championships - Junior's been given the nod for Tokyo, ahead of close mate Andy Maloney.

Junior finished well down the leaderboard in seventh at Rio 2016, but there’s no reason he can't finish with at least a medal this time, adding to an already successful year that includes America’s Cup victory with Team New Zealand.

Canoe Sprint - Lisa Carrington, K1 200 final 2:37pm NZ

If there was ever an event to whack the TAB account on, it's Carrington in the K1 200. With seven straight world championship titles, and gold medals at London and Rio, the 32-year-old could - or rather should - become the first New Zealander to win gold at three straight Games.

It's hard to see a reason she won't.

Canoe Sprint - Lisa Carrington & Caitlin Regal, K2 500 final 3:47pm NZ

Backing up from the K1 200 final and the K2 500 semi-final is a big ask for Carrington, but she's continuously said that she's trained and planned for this - it isn’t a surprise.

Carrington and Regal (then Ryan) finished with silver at the 2018 world championships.

Track cycling - Women's team pursuit final 8:26pm NZ

While the women’s endurance team have consistently done well, you have to go back to Sarah Ulmer in the Athens 2004 individual pursuit for the last medal. Gold medalists at the 2019 World Cup event in Cambridge, the Kiwis also have the second-best ever time in the team pursuit.

NZ women's team pursuit
NZ women's team pursuit. Photo credit: Photosport

Wednesday, August 4

Track cycling - Men's team pursuit final 9:06pm NZ

The men's endurance programme is no longer taking a backseat to the spotlight-hogging men's team sprint.

The team pursuit finished fourth at Rio 2016, after claiming bronze at London 2012 and Beijing 2008, but head to Tokyo in superb form, after finishing second at last year's world champs to Denmark, which became the first team to go sub-3m 45s.

The New Zealand team should push for gold this year.

Thursday, August 5

Canoe Sprint - Lisa Carrington & Caitlin Regal, K1 500 semis 12:59pm & final 3:08pm NZ

Another chance for Carrington gold. A former world champion in the event, Carrington finished with bronze at  Rio Olympics, but improving the colour will surely be on her mind.

Regal could also join her on the podium.

Athletics - Tom Walsh & Jacko Gill, men's shot put final 2:05pm NZ

It'd take a lot for one of these two to usurp world recordholder Ryan Crouser, but if anyone can, it's Walsh, the former world champion, who's built nicely, after a slow start to his season.

But Gill is also an outside chance and has the ability to deliver on the day.

Boxer David Nyika in action
Boxer David Nyika in action. Photo credit: Photosport

Friday, August 6

Boxing - David Nyika, men's heavyweight final 6:05pm NZ

New Zealand’s only ever won one boxing gold medal - Ted Morgan in the men’s welterweight at Amsterdam 1928.

Our only heavyweight medal was David Tua at Barcelona in 1992. Nyika's a two-time Commonwealth Games champion, with this likely his last amateur fight, before a potential move to the professional ranks.

Saturday, August 7

Canoe Sprint - women's K4 500 semi 1:07pm & final 3pm NZ

Canoe Racing NZ held trials for this boat in May, with former World Cup winner Kayla Imrie pipped for a spot by former K1 1000 world champion Teneale Hatton. The quartet are a good chance to podium.

Golf - Lydia Ko, women's strokeplay final round 10:30am NZ

A silver medalist at Rio, Ko will need to produce more consistent golf that has eluded her in recent years. Even with much of the world's top-15 to be in Tokyo, there's no reason the former world No.1 can't once again be in the mix.

Track cycling - Men's Madison final 7:55pm NZ

The make-up of the New Zealand team for this is yet to be confirmed, but it'll be two of Aaron Gate, Corbin Strong and Campbell Stewart, depending on Stewart's workload, given he'll also contest the omnium and likely team pursuit.

Gate and Stewart finished with silver at last year's world championships.

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