Monday, June 24, 2024

Sports minister applauds Winter Olympics hat-trick

Sport and Recreation Minister, Grant Robertson, has congratulated New Zealand’s Winter Olympic Team on making history at the Beijing Olympic Games.

“New Zealand athletes have had their most successful Olympic Winter Games ever in winning three medals in total in Beijing, including unprecedented Golds to Zoi Sadowski-Synnott and Nico Porteous,” Mr Robertson said.

Previously, the most successful Olympics for New Zealanders was at PyeongChang in 2018, when two bronze medals were won. In Beijing, New Zealand finished 17th on the medal table, one ahead of Australia and two ahead of the United Kingdom.

“I am immensely proud of our athletes who rose above the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions to deliver outstanding performances, including the challenge of competing in Beijing without their friends and whanau on the sidelines for their events,” the Minister said.

“The support staff on the ground played a crucial role in our success at these Games, with the world class coaching team led by Tom Willmott and the technical experts supporting Zoi and Nico and the rest of the New Zealand team.

“I would also like to acknowledge the incredible hard work of those behind the scenes in ensuring all our athletes were ready and able to perform at their peak, but were able to travel and compete safely at the Games. I particularly acknowledge the NZ Olympic Committee; President Mike Stanley, Chief Executive Kereyn Smith and their team including Chef De Mission Marty Toomey. 

Zoi Sadowski Synnott of Team New Zealand poses with her gold medal in the Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle and Silver medal for the Snowboard Big Air on Day Twelve of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

“New Zealand’s success in slopestyle and big air disciplines has come about over a relatively short timeframe and is a clear indication of the potential for other new sports and disciplines beginning their high performance journey.

“It has come about as the result of a determined and comprehensive pathways strategy for Snow Sports athletes driven by pioneers like Marty Toomey, who was head of Snow Sports NZ and led the strategy that has given us the most successful winter Olympics ever, as well as Ashley Light, the former High Performance Director of Snow Sports NZ and current Snow Sports NZ chief executive, Nic Cavanagh.

“I would also like to recognise the enormous contribution of the late Sir Eion Edgar, who was a friend and unwavering supporter of our winter athletes. Sir Eion established Winter Games NZ and worked tirelessly to support the event, which provides New Zealand athletes with unprecedented access to international competition here at home. Sir Eion’s legacy lives on and he would have been immensely proud of our athletes’ achievements in Beijing.

“It is now the turn of our Para athletes, who will head to Beijing for the upcoming Paralympic Winter Games, to find their own success on the world stage. I know they will continue to make New Zealanders proud,” Mr Robertson said.

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