The weekend began with Chloe Esposito winning a gold medal in the Modern Pentathlon.
The 24 year old came from 7th place in the final event late on Day Two of the very mixed but exacting competition which involves the disciplines of Fencing, Swimming, Showjumping (the horse is unknown to the athlete) and finally running combined with shooting.
Esposito’s shooting accuracy under the duress of running three 800m winding laps across the Deodoro Stadium pitch was impressive as she passed the leader from Poland and just bolted to the finish line.
BMX Champion and gold medal favorite for the Rio Games was Caroline Buchanan who pretty much blitzed the field in the heats leading to the semi-finals. Everything seemed to be going to plan as she attempted to erase the disappointment of London where she also started as favorite but finished out of the medals.
The weight of expectation had never seemed to affect Buchanan relishing the opportunity to redeem what should be rightfully hers but every measurable test in sport performance. But the beauty and the cruelty of sport is that it’s all about what happens between the gate dropping and the finish line – no matter what the stats say.
Buchanan clipped an opponent’s wheel on the first turn of the final run in the Women’s BMX semi-final, crashed to the ground and that as they say was that.
Farewell and thank you to the pioneers of triathlon
Two women who have served the sport of Triathlon well, bowed out on Saturday as they each ran their last Olympic race but and creating Australian Olympic history by being the first triathletes to compete in three Olympics.
Emma Moffat is a name synonymous with the sport in Australia. The 31 year old won a Bronze medal eight years ago in Beijing.
Alongside Moffat and sharing in the memories of three Olympic campaigns is Erin Densham. She too has a bronze medal adorning her trophy cabinet having taken third place in London in 2012.
The pair finished 6th and 12th respectively and couldn’t have been happier with their race and more importantly with the path they have forged for future Australian runners.
Is Rio a turning point for Australian Women’s Athletics?
While not coming home with a medal haul, the results from the Track and Field campaign in Rio give rise to hope for a bright future in Athletics as 12 of the competing female athletes finished in the top 10 – a number normally in the low single digits.
Add to that the fact that 82 percent of the Australian athletics contingent made it beyond the first round of their contested events and the future is looking very bright – especially for our female athletes.
Aussie young guns ran out of their skin to break a 16 year drought
Busting a gut in the semi-final these four youngsters ran a personal best time which would have seen them win Bronze in the final if they had been able to replicate it just 24 hours later.
The final was a slower run affair and although the Aussies finished 8th, the experience has served them well, whetting their collective appetite for the next World Championships and especially for the 2018 Commonwealth Games on home turf in Queensland.
This foursome is aged between just 18 to 24 years and they’re already making plans for their next big gig!
Alana Boyd – So close to flying higher
Pole vaulter Alana Boyd was filled with mixed emotions as she placed fourth at the Rio Olympics over the weekend – nothing to be sneezed at.
Jumping 4.80m was pleasing as she felt she wasn’t quite in the groove on the day, but knowing that your personal best height is just 5cm higher and that a jump at that height would have scored you a Bronze medal stings – just a little.
Disappointment is the ugly part of the journey
Not everything went to plan – but that’s sport at the elite level – crushingly disappointing for Rebecca Henderson in the Mountain Bike event as a back problem, which she had been managing all year, reared its ugly head and saw her being eliminated just four laps in to the six lap Final.
This is Henderson’s second Olympics having finished 24th in London.
If numbers count - Golf got the thumbs up
While the inclusion of golf has come in for some criticism, the crowds were good and the Aussie women performed well.
Minjee Lee finished equal 7th but admits that it wasn’t until she got into the tournament that she realised what a big event this was - full of praise for the Olympic experience – and excited that she was sharing in a special occasion being a part of Golf’s return to the Olympic fold after more than a century.
Fellow Aussie Su Oh finished equal 13th and both 20-year-olds have expressed the hope that they’ll be in equally good form in four years when Tokyo 2020 rolls around.