Take a look back at the New Zealand athletes who made the Birmingham Commonwealth Games our most successful Games in history.
New Zealand’s athletes achieved the country’s greatest ever medal haul at this year’s Commonwealth Games. Now that the Games has concluded, it’s only right that we celebrate their achievements.
The athletes won a record 20 gold medals at the 2022 Games and 49 medals overall – the most ever won by New Zealand at an away-Games.
Team New Zealand’s medals were spread across an eclectic range of sports, from the traditional stalwart events to lesser appreciated sports and even some newcomers to the Games.
Here’s how it all went down:
Clareburt, Pascoe and NZ swimmers make a splash
Lewis Clareburt made a splash at his second Commonwealth Games, winning gold in the 400 metre individual medley and setting a new Games record time.
The added attention of his first win failed to distract the 23-year-old from Wellington, as he went on to secure another gold medal in the men’s 200m butterfly event, recording a brisk time of 1:57:59 – just 32 milliseconds behind his personal best.
Meanwhile, small town Coromandel swimmer Andrew Jeffcoat clocked a personal best and national record of 24.65 seconds in the 50 metres backstroke event to pip South Africa’s Pieter Coetze to secure another gold medal for New Zealand.
Commonwealth Games debutant Cameron Gray made his mark in the men’s 50m butterfly, securing a bronze medal by the slimmest of margins.
Veteran Dame Sophie Pascoe won gold in the women’s S-9 100m freestyle event – her only event of the Games. The 29-year-old told media she was unsure whether or not this would be her final appearance at the Games.
Para-swimmer Joshua Willmer won gold in a jaw-dropping end to the men’s 100m breaststroke SB8 final where a last gasp effort saw the 17-year-old snatch victory off the silver-medallist by a matter of milliseconds.
Fellow Para-swimmer Tupou Neiufi also secured silver in the women’s S8 100m backstroke event, adding to her CV after winning gold at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
Squash may fall into the lesser appreciated sports category but New Zealand’s excellent performances in the event are sure to bring it more attention in the future.
At the Games, New Zealand’s Paul Coll put on masterful performance after performance, first securing a gold medal in the men’s singles squash event before teaming up with his teammate Joelle King for the mixed doubles event.
King and Coll formed a formidable duo in the mixed doubles, dispatching England’s duo in just two games in a high intensity gold medal final.
Memorably, King and Coll showed they were willing to put their bodies on the line for success, diving and throwing their bodies after the ball to secure a point.
After competing in the women’s squash singles event and securing gold with Coll, King then went on to compete in the women’s doubles event alongside Amanda Landers-Murphy.
In the final medal event of the Games involving New Zealand athletes, King and Landers-Murphy successfully defended their women’s doubles squash title, beating English pair Sarah-Jane Perry and Alison Waters – 11-8, 11-8.
The pair’s win was particularly significant in that it took New Zealand’s medal tally to a total of 20 gold medals for the first time in a Commonwealth Games.
Shotput and athletics
While track and field did not prove to be the most successful area of competition for New Zealand, the athletes still managed to deliver six medals to the overall medal tally.
New Zealanders and familiar competitors Tom Walsh and Jacko Gill shared the podium in the men’s shot put event, with Walsh taking out gold and Gill the silver.
However, the shot putters’ were almost the other way around as Gill recorded a personal-best with his final throw although Walsh proved to be too strong in the end.
In the women’s shot put, Commonwealth Games debutant Maddi Wesche won a bronze medal of her own – all while donning her signature sunnies.
In a first for the country, Hamish Kerr won New Zealand’s first medal of any colour in the men’s high jump and it was the best colour of all – gold.
Kerr won the men’s high jump final, recording a jump of 2.25m to beat out reigning champion Brandon Starc of Australia who just happens to be the brother of Australian cricketer Mitchell Starc.
The two remaining athletics medals came through Julia Ratcliffe who secured silver in the hammer throw and 21-year-old Imogen Ayris who secured a bronze medal in the pole vault event.
Clinical cyclists a highlight of the Games
New Zealand’s success on the medal tally has a lot to thank the high performance cycling team for, after they established themselves as the most dominant team in the London velodrome.
The team was spearheaded by the superb efforts of Aaron Gate who won four gold medals, becoming the first ever New Zealander to win four golds at a single Games.
He was on top of the podium in the 4000m Individual Pursuit, 4000m Team Pursuit, Points Race and the Road Race. He also placed 4th in the time trial.
Also winning gold in the team pursuit alongside Gate was Jordan Kerby, Tom Sexton and Campbell Stewart.
Gate’s performances helped lift New Zealand’s medal tally in track cycling to 13, the medals were made up of eight gold, four silver and one bronze – New Zealand’s most successful performance on the track at a major event.
Commonwealth Games debutant Corbin Strong continued New Zealand’s solid showing at the velodrome with a gold medal in the men’s scratch race before Campbell Stewart secured silver in the men’s points race.
Ellesse Andrews joined an exclusive club of athletes as a triple-gold medalist. She won the Keirin final with a controlled ride after taking the lead with two laps to go and also won gold medals in the individual and team sprints.
Andrews also filled in for the women’s team pursuit following an injury and helped them to a silver medal.
Track cyclist Bryony Botha won the gold medal in the 3000m individual pursuit while Georgia Williams secured bronze in the women’s road cycling time trial.
Michaela Drummond also claimed a silver medal in the women’s 10km scratch race.
In addition to the medals won on the sleek roads and in velodromes, New Zealand’s mountain bikers secured several medals themselves.
For the third straight Commonwealth Games, the first and second positions in the men’s cross country race were filled by New Zealanders with Samuel Gaze taking gold and Ben Oliver the silver.
It is fair to say the Black Ferns and All Blacks Sevens teams were not at their best in Birmingham but both teams managed to secure a medal to bring home for their efforts.
After the All Blacks Sevens team was narrowly knocked out of their semi-final against Fiji in extra time, the side went on to overcome Australia 26-12 in the bronze medal final.
Meanwhile, the Black Ferns withstood a late charge from Canada to win 19-12 and secure the bronze medal.
How did the rest of the events play out?
In T-20 cricket debut at the Commonwealth Games, the White Ferns managed to secure a bronze medal with an eight-wicket win over England.
In Netball, the Silver Ferns won bronze, beating England 55-48 in a turnaround from their defeat in pool play.
Judo athlete Kody Andrews took silver in the men’s over 100kg category, to add to the two bronze medals won by fellow judokas Moira Koster and Sydnee Andrews in the under and over 78kg classes.
Defending Commonwealth Games weightlifting champion David Liti won silver in the men’s 109kg+ weightlifting.
In boxing, New Zealand’s Uila Mau’u won a bronze medal in the men’s over 92kg division after losing his semi-final to England’s Delicious Orie. Also in combat sports, Taylor Ford won bronze in the women’s 68kg freestyle wrestling event.
Finally, the women’s pair, triple and four teams in the lawn bowls all secured the bronze medal in their events.