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The New Zealand equestrian team was announced today and Mark Todd has been selected to represent New Zealand at his six games... A fantastic achievement.

The New Zealand Equestrian team for the Beijing Olympics has been named and there is good news for Mark Todd.

Equestrian Sports New Zealand has confirmed that the five strong squad who will travel to the Beijing Olympics are:

Todd and his mount Gandalf

Andrew Nicholson on Lord Killinghurst

Joe Meyer on Snip

Caroline Powell on Lenamore

Heelan Tompkins on Sugoi.

The team, which was expected to be officially named on Tuesday afternoon, was leaked on the British-based Horse and Hound website .

Beijing will be the sixth Olympics for both Todd and Nicholson, making them New Zealand's most capped Olympians - surpassing canoeist Ian Fergusson's attendance at five Games.

Todd, who returned from eight years' in retirement to make this Olympic bid, won gold medals in the individual three-day event at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics and was voted the rider of the 20th century by the International Equestrian Federation.

"I'm delighted that we've got the nod to go,'' Todd says.``It's what we set out to do at the beginning and we're looking forward to being part of the team."

He says New Zealand has a solid team and have a good chance at a medal.

Nicholson, who is based in the UK, has been a consistent top 10 performer over a number of years and holds the record for the most number of completions at Badminton, which is regarded as the world's most prestigious four star event.

He agrees with Todd's assessment of the team.

"It's a pretty good team ... It's better than what it could have been a couple of years ago and it's getting stronger all the time," says Nicholson.

Source: ONE Sport www.tvnz.co.nz

Edited by micheal_warren
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Are you sure thats not just the eventing team? Because New Zealand qualified a squad of nine, five in eventing and four in show jumping.

Altought it wouldn't be the first time NZ retires a qualified athlete (Karen Li in Table Tennis and a spot in the -49kg women's Taekwondo, for example).

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Are you sure thats not just the eventing team? Because New Zealand qualified a squad of nine, five in eventing and four in show jumping.

Altought it wouldn't be the first time NZ retires a qualified athlete (Karen Li in Table Tennis and a spot in the -49kg women's Taekwondo, for example).

The show jumping team will be announced in the next couple of weeks...

What do you mean about Karen Li? She is not going to Beijing

Nicholson and Todd become the first New Zealand athletes to attend six olymoic games. A fine achievement!

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The show jumping team will be announced in the next couple of weeks...

What do you mean about Karen Li? She is not going to Beijing

Nicholson and Todd become the first New Zealand athletes to attend six olymoic games. A fine achievement!

He means that New Zealand has returned qualified spots instead of sending their own athletes.

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The New Zealand Olympic Committee has a pretty harsh selection policy. Athletes have to have the potential to make a certain ranking in competition to go to Beijing, even if they have met all qualifying standards set down internationally.

The NZOC has also released a new team logo, the traditional Silver Fern taking on symbolism with the Chinese lucky number 8. It also features representation of the maori mythical bird - the Hokioi.

Te Wiriwiringa Kotahitanga - The Beijing 2008 Fern

The chant of Te Wiriwiringa Kotahitanga - the fern of the New Zealand Olympic Team to Beijing 2008.

Papaa te whaititiri, hikohiko te uira, kanapu ko te rangi, ru ana te whenua e…

He aha tera! E ko te hokioi, ko te hokio – te manu tipua

Whakahiato nga toa o Aotearoa!

Kia uu…kia mau…kia mataara…

Hi aue …te wiriwiringa kotahitanga

The thunder cracks, the lightening flashes, the skies open, the earth shakes.

What is that? It is the Hokioi, the Hokioi, the fabulous bird of the skies.

Calling, urging all of us – the warriors of Aotearoa – together, together, all together!

Be brave! Believe in ourselves, stand by each other!

Yes, let’s all quiver in anticipation.

Composed by Amster Reedy

Athlete Services Beijing 2008

About the Fern

For 100 Years, New Zealand Olympians have been wearing the silver fern. This year, a fern has been especially designed for the New Zealand Olympic Team to Beijing 2008. Designed by members of three Iwi in the Kapiti-Horowhenua region where the uniforms are made, the fern features eight fronds, a number important to both Chinese and Maori culture. The fern also includes the beak of the Hokioi, a mythical bird which traditionally calls for people to be ready. Together, the fern and the Hokioi represent the pride New Zealand athletes have in their country, their respect for the people of China and the nervous anticipation that comes before competition and achievement.

Mr Currie acknowledges the symbolic nature of the uniform and emphasizes its role in creating a high performance environment at Beijing 2008. “Athletes are telling us the symbolism of the fern and the pride they have in it and our unique New Zealand heritage plays an important role in helping them achieve on the world’s stage and to go places they’ve never gone before.”

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A good night overall for the new zealand rowing team in the build up to the olympics: (this from tvnz.co.nz)

Jun 23, 2008

The resurgence of Rob Waddell continues to astound those on the international rowing scene, following the final pre-Olympic World Cup meet in Poland.

Double scullers Waddell and Nathan Cohen have been part of three gold medal haul for New Zealand.

Mahe Drysdale won the single sculls while George Bridgewater and Nathan Twaddle took out the men's pair.

Twaddle says Waddell is earning his keep - even offering to shout ice cream to the crew last night.

The women's pair of Juliette Haigh and Nicky Coles finished second beating the Romanian Olympic champions in their straight final.

Emma Twigg took bronze in the women's single, the men's four finished fifth and Duncan Grant took silver in the non-Olympic lightweight men's single.

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The New Zealand shooting team was named today: this from the NZOC Website

Chinese-born New Zealander Yang Wang may be returning to his birthplace when he competes as part of the New Zealand Olympic Team at Beijing 2008, but there’s no doubt he’ll be there as a Kiwi.

Wang (Men’s Air Pistol) is one of four shooters named by the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) today and is the 2008 New Zealand Olympic Team’s athlete representative of New Zealand’s strong Chinese community.

Others named to the team today include Olympian Nadine Stanton (Women’s Trap), Graeme Ede (Men’s Trap) and Robbie Eastham (Men’s Prone).

Stanton is remembered for her finals performance at Athens 2004 and her gold at the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games, both in the double trap.

Double trap is no longer an Olympic event and Stanton has made strong progress in the transition to the single ahead of Beijing.

Ede has returned consistent world class scores since his return to international elite competition in 2003, including a gold medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games. Eastham (19) is new to Men’s Prone but progress since his debut in 2007 has been strong and he has consistently returned scores in the 590s.

Olympic Selector, Barry Maister is delighted to welcome the four athletes to the Olympic team today. “With just over a month until the Olympic Games opens in Beijing, we’re making the final selections to our team. As athletes are named to the team they prepare to play a role in New Zealand’s rich Olympic heritage and one of those named today may just be our 1000th Olympian.”

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The New Zealand Hockey teams have been named for the Olympic Games: this from olympic.org.nz

Black Sticks Men & Women Named

The New Zealand Olympic Committee has named the 32 men and women who will make up the New Zealand Olympic Hockey Teams to Beijing 2008.

BLACK STICKS MEN

The massive disappointment of missing Athens due to injury can now be erased for influential captain and midfielder, Ryan Archibald. He will lead a strong and very experienced Men’s team to Beijing with half the squad having played more than 100 tests for the Black Sticks.

The Men have experience in all positions with defenders Blair Hopping and Dean Couzins on 183 and 155 tests respectively. Archibald will lead the midfield and now has an amazing 207 test caps, while on attack they have three players who have amassed more than 100 tests in Phil Burrows, David Kosoof and Gareth Brooks. This core group of players will be nicely complemented by rising stars such as Simon Child, Shea McAleese and Steven Edwards.

World Class drag flick exponent Hayden Shaw and his brother Brad Shaw who was the hero of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in February have also cemented their spots. The average age of the side is 26.5, while the average tests per player is a whopping 113.

The men have the enormous task of facing Germany, Spain and Korea in Pool Play – all teams who competed at last weeks Champions Trophy for the world’s top six teams. Their challenge now is to reach their peak in Beijing, something that will make them a genuine contender for a medal. They finished their recent tour of Europe with solid wins over Canada and Belgium – both teams that are competing in Beijing.

The 16 Black Sticks Men’s players to compete at the 2008 Beijing Olympics are:

Shirt #Player Name NHL Team Age Caps Position

3 David Kosoof North Harbour 29 136 Striker

7 Blair Hopping North Harbour 27 183 Defender

30 Ben Collier North Harbour 24 72 Midfielder

31 Steve Edwards North Harbour 22 47 Midfielder

10 Ryan Archibald Auckland 27 207 Midfielder

6 Simon Child Auckland 20 81 Striker

8 Dean Couzins Auckland 27 155 Defender

16 Paul Woolford Auckland 31 128 Goalkeeper

20 James Nation Auckland 31 90 Defender

24 Gareth Brooks Auckland 29 103 Striker

9 Casey Henwood Midlands 27 61 Midfielder

17 Kyle Pontifex Wellington 28 65 Goalkeeper

18 Phillip Burrows Wellington 28 198 Striker

25 Shea McAleese Central 23 70 Midfielder

12 Bradley Shaw Canterbury 25 73 Defender

19 Hayden Shaw Canterbury 27 139 Defender

Team Management

Coach Shane McLeod

Assistant Coach Greg Nicol

Manager Kevin Marr

Physiotherapist Gavin D’Souza

Video Analyst Darren Smith

BLACK STICKS WOMEN

Black Sticks Women’s coach Kevin Towns has confirmed an exciting blend of experienced campaigners and emerging young talent in his team of 16. The bolter in the team is 18 year old striker Gemma Flynn who has quickly risen from national age group ranks to join experienced strikers Jaimee Claxton, Niniwa Roberts and Krystal Forgesson in a forward line that will threaten the best team’s in the world.

The team has strength in the midfield where Emily Naylor, Kayla Sharland and 141 test veteran Caryn Paewai will feature, while influential captain Lizzy Igasan will lead a solid defensive outfit including Kate Saunders and Jo Galletly.

In goal Town’s has opted for Beth Jurgeleit and Anita Wawatai – Wawatai, who has been battling injury for some time has come back in fine form and played exceptionally well in the recent four nations tournament in China.

The Black Sticks are drawn in pool play against world heavy weights Argentina and Japan, while challenges will also come from Germany, USA and Great Britain. Like the men, much will depend on the team’s ability to produce their best in Beijing. They are showing signs of dramatic improvement in recent weeks and can now be confident of their chances. A highlight of their recent series in China were two 3-0 wins over Spain and a satisfying 1-1 draw with the highly fancied Chinese.

The 16 Black Sticks Women’s players to compete at the 2008 Beijing Olympics are:

Shirt # Player Name NHL Team Age Caps Position

8 Jaimee Claxton North Harbour 30 138 Striker

10 Lizzy Igasan North Harbour 25 121 Defender

3 Krystal Forgesson Auckland 25 66 Striker

14 Kim Noakes Auckland 25 34 Defender

22 Gemma Flynn Midlands 18 16 Striker

1 Kayla Sharland Central 22 87 Midfielder

2 Emily Naylor Central 22 105 Midfielder

17 Caryn Paewai Central 32 141 Midfielder

23 Tara Drysdale Central 29 114 Midfielder

26 Anita Wawatai Central 27 41 Goalkeeper

15 Beth Jurgeleit Wellington 27 66 Goalkeeper

21 Niniwa Roberts Wellington 32 134 Striker

24 Sheree Horvath Wellington 28 34 Defender

4 Kate Saunders Canterbury 26 51 Defender

11 Stacey Carr Canterbury 24 92 Midfielder

13 Jo Galletly Canterbury 28 63 Defender

Team Management

Coach Kevin Towns

Assistant Coach Paul Derham

Manager Debbie Balme

Physiotherapist Mary Dunning

Video Analyst Christopher Leslie

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Liza Hunter-Galvan Named to Olympic Team

The New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) has selected Liza Hunter-Galvan for the New Zealand Olympic Team to Beijing 2008.

Hunter-Galvan was nominated to the NZOC this morning by Athletics NZ and the three Olympic selectors reviewed the information and confirmed her selection this afternoon.

Barry Maister, NZOC secretary-general and Olympic selector welcomed Hunter-Galvan to the team.

"We acknowledge that this particular selection has, for a number of reasons, been a complex one. However, we are satisfied that the nomination process has been thorough and that she has met the New Zealand Olympic selection criteria."

Liza will compete in the women's marathon at Beijing 2008.

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New Additions to Cycling Team

There’s a mix of youth and experience in the new additions to the New Zealand Olympic Cycling Team to Beijing named today.

Twenty-year-old Sarah Walker (Kawerau) and 22-year-old Marc Willers (Cambridge) have been named in the BMX team with the sport making its Olympic debut in Beijing.

Also named is Commonwealth Games medallist Rosara Joseph (Wellington) and Kashi Leuchs (Dunedin) who will be taking part in his third Olympics in crosscountry mountainbike.

Walker is the current World No 1 in BMX and Willers ranked No 5 on the UCI World rankings.

Walker finished runner-up at the 2007 world championships in Canada and won the Cruiser class world title in her first year as an elite. She went on to dominate the Supercross world series and the Oceania BMX ranking series, where she won seven of eight events in the 2007-2008 season.

She won a bronze medal in both the Olympic and Cruiserr classes at the recent world championships in China.

New Zealand Olympic Selector and Secretary General, Barry Maister notes the changing face of the Olympic Games. “As sports change and grow the Olympic Games adapt. I’m delighted to see the inclusion of BMX Supercross at Beijing and I know with Sarah and Marc in excellent form, New Zealanders will be following this exciting sport.”

Willers has been consistently in the top echelon of world BMX riders, winning a round of the Supercross world circuit in 2007-2008 and also taking out the Oceania ranking series. He was sixth at the 2005 world championships but crashed in the quarterfinals this year.

Joseph won the silver medal at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games and went on to finish fifth at the world championships in Scotland last year.

She won the Oceania title last year and is recovering from a broken ankle.

Joseph, who is on a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University, is also a talented road cyclist.

Leuchs, now based in France, will be competing in his third Olympics and has raced at two Commonwealth Games. He finished a creditable 17th in the first ever mountainbike crosscountry event at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, and was 28th in Athens as well as fourth at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester and fifth in Melbourne. The 30-year-old is a highly consistent performer on the world stage with two top-10 finishes at the world championships to his credit. Leuchs is currently ranked 17th in the world.

More road and track announcements will be made next week completing the Beijing 2008 Olympic cycling team.

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Some more of the olympic team has been named today: this from olympic.org.nz

Relay swim team makes qualifying mark for Beijing Olympics

The New Zealand Olympic Committee has added the men’s relay swim team for the Beijing Olympics.

The team of Cameron Gibson (North Shore), William Benson (North Shore), Mark Herring (West Auckland Aquatics) and Orinoco Faamausili-Banse (Laser Mt Eden) today officially qualified for the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay.

They have been confirmed by the world body FINA as one of the four fastest counties to fill the remaining four places in the 16-strong relay for Beijing when the qualifying period finished yesterday.

The 12 fastest nations from the world championships automatically qualified for Beijing with the four fastest non-qualifiers until June 30 making up the remaining places.

The New Zealand quartet produced a New Zealand record of 3:17.45 at the Olympic trials with Russia, Netherlands and China going faster from the non-qualified nations. The kiwis were nearly one second faster than the next fastest Croatia to be 16th overall. The 12 countries automatically through to Beijing are world champions USA, Italy, France, South Africa, Australia, Sweden, Canada, Brazil, Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland and Japan.

This brings the New Zealand swim team to 15 with seven swimmers in individual events along with the women’s 4x200m freestyle relay and men’s 4x100m freestyle and medley relays.

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The Olympic showjumping team has been named for the olympics: this from olympic.org.nz

Showjumpers Named to New Zealand Olympic Equestrian Team.

Rising talent Katie McVean has broken new ground after being named by the NZOC to the New Zealand Showjumping team for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

McVean, 22, is the first New Zealand-based showjumper to make Olympic selection for 16 years.

She will be joined in Hong Kong, where the Olympic equestrian events will be held, by the experienced Bruce Goodin and Daniel Meech, and newcomer Sharn Wordley.

McVean, a full-time rider based in the Waikato, showed signs of her potential from an early age and has won a host of titles both at home and offshore. She has a strong showjumping pedigree and will follow in the footsteps of her father Jeff, who competed at Olympic, World Cup and world championship level for Australia. Her mother Vicki also rode for Australia.``I’m very excited to be able to represent my country at what is the most prestigious sporting event in the world,’’ McVean said.

Based in Sweden for many years, Goodin, 38, has a strong record on the British and European showjumping circuits.``I’ve been working hard to get to this point and am now thrilled to be going to my fourth Olympics.’’Goodin also attended the 1992, 2000 and 2004 Olympics.

Belgium-based Meech, 34, has been on every New Zealand shortlist for world championships and Olympic Games since 1996 and is New Zealand’s best placed individual showjumper at an Olympic Games after finishing 12th in Athens in 2004. He will be attending his third Olympics in Hong Kong.``I am very happy to be a part of the team,’’ he said. ``This is probably the easiest part of the campaign, now we have to keep going and keep getting better.’’

Wordley, 34, has backed up a stellar 12 months on the US Grand Prix circuit to fulfill a life-long dream. Based in Florida, Wordley had podium finishes in 15 Grand Prix events in the US over the past year.``It’s been a goal that I have been working on since leaving New Zealand as an 18-year-old with my horse,’’ he said. ``It’s a dream come true.’’

Showjumping coach Greg Best said he was thrilled to be involved with such an exciting mix of talent.The American-born coach, a double Olympic showjumping silver medalist from the 1988 Seoul Olympics, was confident of a good showing.

``I’m really enthusiastic about the prospects of this team finishing in the top 8,’’ Best said.``Individually anything can happen on the day and to have the experience of Bruce and Daniel with the two new riders on this team is exciting for New Zealand.’’

In a tribute to McVean, Equestrian Sports NZ chief executive Jim Ellis said her selection proved the positive spin-offs of strong performances in domestic competition and that she would prove a catalyst for other New Zealand-based riders.

``Equestrian Sports NZ is delighted with the talent and experience in our showjumping team for Hong Kong,’’ he said.``We are well placed to achieve our target of a top eight finish in the team event, which would represent the best finish ever at the Olympics.’’

The selection announcement today brings the New Zealand Olympic Equestrian team to a total of nine riders. No further selections are expected.

Team and mounts:

Bruce Goodin (Yamato)

Katie McVean (Forest)

Daniel Meech (Sorbas)

Sharn Wordley (Rockville)

Non-travelling Reserve: Kirk Webby (Sitah)

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The canoe/kayak slalom team has been named for the olympics: this from olympic.org.nz

First Canoe/Kayak-Slalom Woman Selected

At just 19 years of age, Luuka Jones has become New Zealand’s first woman to represent New Zealand at the Olympic Games in Canoe/Kayak- Slalom.

Jones’ nomination was accepted by the New Zealand Olympic Committee after she qualified for the Games at a World Cup meet at Tacen in Slovenia on 29 June 2008. She has previously secured the International Canoe Federation’s Olympic spot for New Zealand at the Oceania Championships in Australia in March this year.

Originally from Tauranga, Jones is now based in Nottingham (UK), the home of the United Kingdom’s slalom team where she is able to train and compete with some of the world’s most experienced slalom racers.

New Zealand Olympic selector, Barry Maister, is delighted at Jones’ selection. “Luuca’s selection is exciting – Canoe/Kayak-Slalom is a thrilling sport and she’s a trailblazer for us. She’s a strong long-term prospect.”

Jones also has her sights set on the future. “For me, the sky is the limit,” she said. “I’ve always made a total effort, even when the odds seemed entirely against me. I never quite trying. I never felt that I didn’t have a chance to win.”

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Olympic Football Squads Named: this from olympic.org.nz

The New Zealand Olympic Committee has named the men and women who will be the first football players to represent New Zealand at an Olympic Games.

Both 18-player squads are will benefit from the availability of key players for the August 6-23 tournaments.

Barry Maister, New Zealand Olympic selector, is delighted to have the squads named and will look forward to honouring New Zealand's first Football Olympians. “With the naming of two big squads today, the New Zealand Olympic Team to Beijing 2008 now stands at 163 athletes, he said. “With some squads as yet unnamed and qualification tournaments still to be contested, New Zealand is expecting its largest team Olympic Team ever.”

The Fooball Ferns (Senior Women)

After ending a 16-year absence from the world stage at the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Football Ferns return to China with their strongest squad in John Herdman’s two-year tenure as head coach.

Goalscoring midfielder Kirsty Yallop – who missed the World Cup through injury but played a major part in World Cup and Olympic qualifying on either side – gets her chance to foot it against the world’s best, while fullback Marlies Oostdam and striker Rebecca Tegg have both recovered from ACL injuries that have kept them out of international football since the World Cup.

The Peace Queen Cup in June saw the return of Sweden-based World Cup defender Rebecca Smith (from injury) and former Arsenal striker Amber Hearn (from a three-year break from the sport). Strong team performances at that tournament included a 1-0 win over South American champions Argentina.

“It’s exciting going into an Olympic Games knowing that all 18 players bring something different and that they can all make a significant impact to the team performance in their own unique way.” Herdman said.

“We’ve got players coming back from injury at the right time with Oostdam and Tegg back in for the first time since the World Cup and Rebecca Smith coming back on board at the Peace Queen Cup.

Five teenagers in the squad and an average age of just 22 give the Football Ferns a youthful look, although Kristy Hill’s selection is a belated present for her 29th birthday on Tuesday and reward for a fine debut in Korea less than a month ago.

With football beginning two days before the Olympic opening ceremony, the Football Ferns will be New Zealand’s first Olympians in action when they meet Japan in Qinhuangdao on August 6, and Herdman and his team were relishing the opportunity to kickstart New Zealand’s involvement.

“It’s all special – the whole mantle of being an Olympian. We know what it means to New Zealanders to be at the Olympics, and to be the first team in the first event makes it even more special,” Herdman said.

“To have the chance to get off to a good start by getting a win against Japan and maybe inspiring the rest of the Olympic team is extra motivation.

“The Peace Queen Cup added a bit of realism to that prospect. We’ve taken some key steps over the past nine months towards consistently performing in a way that will lead to results against top teams.”

The Football Ferns finish pool play with matches against world number five Norway on August 9 world number one USA on August 12.

Oly-Whites (U-23 Men)

Oly-Whites coach Stu Jacobs says the inclusion of senior All Whites Chris Killen, Simon Elliot and Ryan Nelson could be the boost his side need to progress into quarterfinals.

A full quota of three over-age players adds experience to an otherwise U-23 squad with many graduating from Jacobs’ 2007 U-20 World Cup squad.

“The focus for us from day one has been getting the over-age players we wanted and I guess by getting them we’ve got a big piece of the jigsaw in place,” Jacobs said.

“All the U-23 lads have put themselves in the frame while in camp and it’s been the hardest decision I’ve had to make, but we’ve got the best possible blend.”

All Whites Steven Old, Jeremy Brockie, and Daniel Ellensohn take the total of senior internationals in the squad to six while former Wellington Phoenix goalkeeper Jacob Spoonley has been part of All Whites World Cup qualifying campaign although is yet to win his first senior cap.

The New Zealand Football Championship supplies the bulk of the side although Michael Boxall, Cole Tinkler, Jack Pelter, and Craig Henderson all have experience of fulltime professional or collegiate environments overseas.

“It’s a good mix,” Jacobs said, “but the thing that stands out is how desperate they all were to get to Beijing and now that we’re on our way, how keen they are to go up a level.”

Despite a tough group that feature Olympic hosts China, Gold Medal favourites Brazil and European darkhorses Belgium, Jacobs indicated a growing confidence within his side.

“We’ve got a hell of a chance.”

“We don’t know what we’re up against but we have to back ourselves against China and Belgium. If we start well and get a result in that first match we can create excitement and momentum.

“We’ve got kids who can turn hope into will and three senior players who can really instil that.”

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NZ Olympic team continues to grow

4/07/2008 11:52 a.m.

The addition of six cyclists and two track athletes to the Olympic team brings numbers of NZ competitors to 169

Six more cyclists have been added to the New Zealand Olympic team, swelling its numbers to 169.

Tour de France rider Julian Dean will spearhead a four-strong track team, backed up by Tim Gudsell and Glenn Chadwick for the men's road race, while Jo Kiesanowski will compete in the women's road race.

Dean says he will still have time to prepare for Beijing after finishing the Tour de France at the end of the month. He says he has got two weeks in between the end of the Tour and the Olympics and the time will be critical.

Meanwhile Catherine Cheatley and Peter Latham have been added to the New Zealand track team.

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Tall Ferns Named

The New Zealand Olympic Committee named the New Zealand Tall Ferns women’s Olympic basketball team today for Beijing 2008.

Captain and forward Aneka Kerr and point guard Angela Marino were both members of the team to Athens 2004 and are now key players in the 12-strong squad that also features sisters Natalie and Charmian Purcell, basketball-cricket dual international Suzie Bates and teenager Jessica McCormack.

Barry Maister, New Zealand Olympic selector and New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) secretary-general said the Tall Ferns team could build on their previous Olympic experience to produce a strong result at Beijing. “They were a successful team in Athens where they delivered the goods against the odds,” he said. “We’re looking for the same or better this time.”

Tall Ferns coach, Mike McHugh acknowledged the high quality of players available for selection to the team.

“It was one of the most difficult selection decisions I’ve been through in 15-16 years of international basketball,” said coach Mike McHugh, who was an assistant coach at the Athens Olympics and part of the team that submitted nominations to the NZOC for selection.

“There were so many players that had put in strong claims for selection.”

Two of those were relative newcomers, New Zealand-born but US-raised duo Clare Bodensteiner and Jillian Harmon, who made their Kiwi debuts in April.

The pair were team-mates at Stanford University in the US college system but were unaware of their eligibility to play for their birth country until Bodensteiner enquired about playing for a New Zealand club earlier this year.

Harmon was a member of the Stanford Cardinal team that reached the Women’s NCAA championship game in April.

At 29, Charmian Purcell is the oldest member of a squad with an average age of 23.5 years, with 18-year-old McCormack the youngest.

“It’s the strongest team we could have selected for the Olympics,” McHugh said.

“But because there are only two players back from the Athens Olympic Games it is a very young and inexperienced team at the Olympic level, even though we’ve had a great build-up over the last year and a half.

“I think it’s a better team than we took to Athens in the talent level, we just lack the superstar names like Gina Farmer and Donna Wilkins.”

Kerr and Marino were part of the Tall Ferns surprise march to the quarterfinals in Athens, with wins over Korea and China, before a loss to eventual silver medallists Australia. The programme has gone through a transition period following a raft of retirements after Athens.

McCormack, at 1.94m, is the only genuine centre, while Kerr, Harmon, Natalie Purcell and Lisa Wallbutton offer height inside, while in the guard-line former captain Noni Wharemate and Kate McMeeken-Ruscoe, who has recovered from an early-season knee injury, provide experience alongside Marino, Bodensteiner, Bates and Cocks.

The Christchurch Sirens provide seven players – Kerr, Bates, McMeeken-Ruscoe, the Purcells, Wallbutton and Wharemate – and assistant coach Leigh Gooding.

The Tall Ferns play their opening games at the Beijing Olympics against Mali on August 9, before further group B games against hosts China, World number one USA and European powers Spain and Czech Republic.

New Zealand Tall Ferns

Position Age Height Club

Suzie Bates Guard 20 1.73m Christchurch Sirens (NZ)

Clare Bodensteiner Guard 23 1.76m Stanford University (NCAA)

Micaela Cocks Guard 22 1.74m University of Oregon (NCAA)

Jillian Harmon Forward 21 1.85m Stanford University (NCAA)

Aneka Kerr © Forward 27 1.82m Christchurch Sirens (NZ)

Angela Marino Guard 22 1.66m Adelaide Lightning (AUS)

Jessica McCormack Centre 18 1.94m University of Connecticut (NCAA)

Kate McMeeken-Ruscoe Guard 28 1.75m Christchurch Sirens (NZ)

Charmian Purcell Forward 29 1.80m Christchurch Sirens (NZ)

Natalie Purcell Forward 25 1.83m Christchurch Sirens (NZ)

Lisa Wallbutton Forward 22 1.83m Christchurch Sirens (NZ)

Noni Wharemate Guard 26 1.71m Christchurch Sirens (NZ)

Coach: Mike McHugh

Assistant: Leigh Gooding

Video technician: Kennedy Kereama

Manager: Louise Hogarth

Doctor: Lynne Coleman

Physio: Karen Sutton

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  • 4 weeks later...

NZ Sends Largest Team Ever

New Zealand will send a record-sized team of 182 athletes to the Beijing Olympic games next month.

The New Zealand Olympic Committee was able to finalise the team after the men's basketball side failed in their qualifying tournament campaign at Athens over the weekend.

The previous biggest team was 150 at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. At Athens in 2004, that number fell to 148.

The inclusion of 18-strong men's and women's soccer squads, both making their Olympic debuts, has boosted numbers considerably.

Men's and women's hockey teams add 32 more to the mix while swimming and cycling both provide 17 athletes each.

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  • 2 weeks later...

We are into day for at the olympics and still not medal for New Zealand but there have been some encouraging results! Moss Burmester is up tomorrow in the 200m butterfly final (our first finalist since 1996 when Danyon Loader won gold). In the sailing Tom Ashley is currently sitting in the bronze medal position in the mens RSX and Andrew Murdoch is sitting in the gold medal position in the laser class but only early days!

The mens hockey team ranked 10th beat south korea ranked 5th last night 3-1! The rowers are powering towards the finals on saturday so it could be a few medals on saturday!

The equestrian team has been a little disappointing with the finals tonight!

Overall some encouraging results for new zealand but it is only day four!

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Looking forward to the rowing semi-finals tonight where new zealand is on a quest to qualify 8 crews for the final which would be a record for us... Last time we got 5 and we have already qualified 2

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