Rio 2016 Paralympics review

This year at the Paralympic Games the New Zealand team absolutely nailed it! In fact, we came 13th place overall – rather impressive for a country with such a small population!

Our incredible athletes did particularly well in the athletics and swimming events, making up for a whopping 19 out of our total 21 medals. Lets have a look at our medal winners…….

Sophie Pascoe, our very own swimming sensation, made history as the most successful New Zealand Paralympian ever. Sophie won gold medals in the women’s 100m backstroke, 100m butterfly and 200m individual medley, as well as silver medals in both the women’s 50m freestyle and 100m freestyle.

Nikita Howarth, New Zealand’s youngest ever Paralympian, also won multiple medals in the pool, scoring herself a gold medal in the women’s 200m individual medley and a bronze in the 50m butterfly.

Other successful New Zealand swimmers are Mary Fisher, who came first in the women’s 100m backstroke, Cameron Leslie, who earned gold in the men’s 150m individual medley, and Rebecca Dubber who won a bronze medal in the women’s 100m backstroke.

Now onto the athletic wins. Liam Malone, the dude on blades, came first in the men’s 200m sprint as well as the men’s 400m, and second in the 100m, earning him two golds and a silver medal.

William Stedman won multiple medals in running events too, coming third in both the men’s 400m and the men’s 800m.

Rory McSweeney also won a bronze medal in the men’s javelin throw.

Several of our female paralympians also had success in the athletic category. Anna Grimaldi won gold in the women’s long jump, Holly Robinson scored silver in the women’s javelin throw, and Jessica Hamill came in at third place in the women’s shot put event.

And lets not forget cycling duo Emma Foy and Laura Thompson who won silver in the women’s individual pursuit at the end of week one, and bronze in the women’s road race in week two.

What a fantastic couple of weeks we had at the Paralympic Games 2016 in Rio. The New Zealand team did an amazing job and managed to smash the target of 18 medals, winning 21 overall. Huge congratulations to all the athletes for their hard work and dedication, you have done our country proud!

 

Rio 2016 Paralympic Games: History

The 2016 Olympics finished less than a month ago, but already we are on to the next biggest worldwide sporting event: the Paralympic Games.

Like the Olympics, the Paralympics give athletes with disabilities from all around the world the opportunity to compete for international success.

The disabilities of competitors in the Paralympic Games are wide ranging and are divided into categories and classifications. Some examples include people in wheelchairs, people with missing limbs, blind people, and people with an intellectual disability like down syndrome or autism, just to name a few.

Before the first official Paralympic Games was held in Italy in 1960, athletes with disabilities participated in the Olympics. However, smaller competitions like the International Wheelchair Games held in 1948 and 1952 were so popular that an organised event especially for athletes with disabilities was needed.

At first, only wheelchair-bound people could compete, but this changed in 1976 when athletes with lots of different disabilities were included in the Paralympics.

Nowadays, the Summer and Winter Paralympics happen on the same year and in the same country as the Olympic Games, usually very shortly after.

This year the Paralympics, which started yesterday, is held in Rio, Brazil. Head over to the Rio Paralympic Games website to check out the sports and to keep track of the medal board.

The New Zealand Paralympic team has 31 athletes in the team this year, who will be competing against over 4,000 others from nearly 180 countries around the globe. TVNZ will also be showing the Paralympics on TV for the first time in 10 years, so keep an eye out for our Kiwis in black and wish them well!

 

The Modern Olympics

You might think the Olympics are over, but the countdown to the Paralympics has only just begun. These games, for athletes with impaired physical abilities, start on 7th September in the same place as the Olympics – Rio De Janerio.

 

While we wait, here is some cool info on the Modern Olympics. You can read our post about the Ancient History of the Olympics to catch up.

 

The ancient Olympic games officially began in 776 BC in Greece and occurred every four years, or Olympiads, ending in 393 AD (after about 1000 years) because they were considered a pagan practice.

Pierre de Coubertin, a French educator, believed in the importance of physical education, and in international competition. Coubertin helped to revive the idea of the olympic games in the 1890s and was a founding member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894.

The modern olympic games began with the 1896 Olympics in Athens, Greece.

Olympic_ringA couple of well known symbols that are used to promote the games are the olympic flag and the olympic flame. The rings on the Olympic flag represent the five parts of the world: the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.

 

 

The number of sports that are played in the current olympics are much higher and more diverse than at the ancient olympic games; they include archery, athletics, badminton, basketball, boxing, canoeing, cycling, diving, equestrian, fencing, football, golf, gymnastics, handball, hockey, judo, modern pentathlon, rowing, rugby sevens, sailing, shooting, swimming, taekwondo, tennis, triathlon, volleyball, water polo, weightlifting, and wrestling.

And that’s just the summer olympics! The winter olympics are held every four years as well, the next one will be in 2018 in PyeongChang, Korea. The sports at the winter olympics are all done in snow or ice; skiing, bobsleigh, curling, skating, ice hockey, luge, ski jumping, and snowboarding.

 

Check out this Enyclopaedia Britannica article about the history of the Olympic games! (You’ll need your library card to login)

 

Want to know more? Find these books in your local library:

Syndetics book coverThe story of the Olympics : the wacky facts about the Olympics and Olympic champions down the centuries! by Richard Brassey
“Records and reputations, cheats and champs, victors and venues – here’s the lowdown on the modern Olympic games, from bestselling author and illustrator, Richard Brassey. From the games of ancient Greece to the twenty-first century, and with individual tales of heroes and heroines, this is a lively, witty and entertaining guide for young readers everywhere. As always with Richard Brassey’s popular books, this is packed with comic strips, fact boxes, hilarious captions and speech bubbles, plus amazing information and entertaining insight.” (Syndetics summary)

 

Syndetics book coverThe Olympics : ancient and modern by Joe Fullman
The Olympics Ancient to Modern is a fascinating look at the history of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, from the first events in Ancient Greece right the way up to London 2012 and Sochi 2014. It focusses on when and where each Games has been held, and some key stats, such as how much it cost, how many athletes competed, and how many spectators came to watch.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

 

Syndetics book coverModern Olympic Games by Haydn Middleton
“‘The Olympics’ tells you all about the world’s greatest sporting festival. From ancient Greece to the 21st century, you will read about the winners, losers, triumphs, and tragedies of the Olympic Games.” (Syndetics summary)

 

 

 

Overdrive book coverThe Olympics by Graham Douglas (eBook)
“The Olympic Games: a major international amateur sporting competition that brings together hundreds of nations and thousands of athletes. This book is a collection of fun, facts and figures about the Games (from ancient to modern times) for sports lovers all over the world. ‘The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well’ Pierre de Coubertin.” (Syndetics summary)

The ancient history of the Olympics

Syndetics book cover

The Olympic games began in Olympia, Greece in 776 BC (that’s almost 3000 years ago!). It was a sporting competition to celebrate excellence and honour the god Zeus.

The first few olympics just had a running race and only lasted one day, but more events got added on later and it became a five day event. Because ancient Greece would often have conflicts going on between city-states there would be a sacred truce (Ekecheiria) during the games so that athletes and spectators could travel to and from Olympia safely.

 

 

 

Competitors from all over Greece and sometimes beyond would compete in sporting events including foot-races (running), the pentathlon (running, long jump, discus, javelin and wrestling), boxing, wrestling, the pankration, and equestrian races (horse and chariot). Pankration is a combination of boxing and wresting and was a particularly brutal event.

Fun Fact: the participants would also compete naked! In fact the Greek word for nude was gymnós which is where our word for gymnasiums comes from.

The ancient olympics also did not allow women to compete in the events, and only unmarried women were allowed to be spectators. Despite this, in 396 BC Kyniska of Sparta became the first female Olympic victor for the chariot race, because the owners of the horses were considered the winners of the race, not the riders.

Instead of receiving gold, silver and bronze medals, there was only one victor in each of the events and they were rewarded with a wreath (wild olive leaf crown), and of course the glory and honour of being an olympic victor (in other words – bragging rights!)

In 393 AD the new Roman emperor and Christian, Theodosius, banned the olympic games because he considered them a pagan practice. So ended 1,000 years of tradition, during which 293 olympics games were held. That is until Pierre de Coubertin, a French academic and historian, pushed to resurrect them and so began the modern olympic games in 1896 Athens, Greece.

 

Want to know more? Find these books in your local library:

Syndetics book coverThe first Olympics of ancient Greece by Lisa M. Bolt Simons

“In ancient Greece different city-states often fought one another in deadly battles. But every four years the Greeks set aside their differences to honor the gods and compete peacefully in the Olympic Games. Learn all about the athletes, competitions, and religious ceremonies of the ancient Olympics.” (Syndetics summary)

 

 

Syndetics book coverOlympics by Richard Platt
“‘In the same spirit as the previous Through Time titles, this book explores the evolution of the Olympic Games, from its ancient origins to modern times. The chronological format allows the reader to experience life in many diverse cities and cultures during different historical periods. Through Time: The Olympic Games tells the complete story of history’s most famous, and most international, sporting competition. The narrative runs from city to city, exploring the impact of the Games on each host nation as well as the key social, political and cultural events of the time. Woven into this narrative are all the major sporting highlights, facts and record-breakers.” (Syndetics summary)

 

 

Flaming Olympics by Michael Coleman

This hilarious guide tells readers everything they need to know, from the torture of Olympic training, to some of the best performances dating back as far as 776 BC.

 

Olympic Games 2016 review

Olympics Week One round up for Team Kiwi!

On the morning of Friday 12 August as we slept, kiwi rowers Eric Murray and Hamish Bond won New Zealand’s first gold medal of this years Olympics in Rio. The duo also won gold at the last Olympic Games in London in 2012, when they set a world record. In fact, Eric and Hamish have been working so hard over the last few years that they have been undefeated in the last 69 races they have competed in. Phew, that’s a lot of wins! Lets have a look at how the rest of the New Zealand team did….

 

Mahe Drysdale also received a gold medal in rowing when he defended his first place title in the men’s single sculls in week two of the Games. Mahe, who went to school in Tauranga, won gold in the same event at the 2012 London Olympics, and is a five-time world champion.

In yet another rowing win, Genevieve Behrent and Rebecca Scown claimed a silver medal in the women’s pair event. This is the second medal for Rebecca, who won bronze in 2012, and a great comeback for Genevieve, who returned to rowing last year after taking a break in 2014.

 

Another successful Olympian from Tauranga, Luuka Jones scored a silver medal for her amazing efforts in the K1 canoe slalom, where competitors have to paddle downriver and upriver through hanging gates. Luuka came in at 14th place four years ago at the London Olympics, so she must have been training hard.

Natalie Rooney made Olympic history at the beginning of the first week when she won a silver medal in the women’s shooting event . Natalie, from South Canterbury, achieved the best shooting result ever for New Zealand after her Aussie competitor bet her by one point.

 

A silver medal was also awarded to Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins of the New Zealand track cycling team. Ethan, Sam and Eddie, who came first in the Cycling World Championships in March, said they were very proud to win silver after the British team beat them by less than a second to snap up the gold.

This was the fourth Olympics for well-known kiwi athlete Valerie Adams, who won a silver medal this year for shot put. Valerie had been the world’s top women’s shot putter for the last 10 years, having won gold in both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, but was beaten by her American competitor who set a national record at this years Games.

 

Finishing off our silver medal winning streak is the New Zealand women’s rugby Sevens team, who came in at second place after their game against Australia. The team, who are Rugby World Cup champions, played a great game, with member Portia Woodman toping the scoring charts for the Olympic events.

 

A huge well-done and congratulations to all our talented and dedicated Olympic athletes, you have done New Zealand proud!

Check out the library catalogue and the New Zealand Olympics website for more information.

 

Rowing at the Olympics

Want to find out about Olympic sports? Here’s some cool info about Rowing; a sport that New Zealand is very good at.

 

Rowing is a boating sport, contested by both men and women at the Olympics. There are two types of rowing events, sculling where the athletes use an oar in each hand and sweep rowing where athletes use both hands to hold one oar. All races are over a distance of 2000 metres.

Rowing is a sport that requires both endurance and coordination. Races usually feature a sprint over the first 500 metres and another over the final 500 metres where stroke rates can be around 47 per minutes. Wow, that sounds exhausting.

 

Rowing first gained popularity as a sport in England in the early 1700s. By the 1800s it had spread throughout Europe and the United States and often features teams from the finest schools and universities. Oxford and Cambridge became traditional rivals in England and Yale and Harvard became rivals in the United States.

Rowing made its Olympic debut as a men’s sport in the 1900 and has remained on the programme ever since. Women’s rowing events were introduced in 1976.

 

It is a very exciting time for Rowing New Zealand as we have qualified the largest ever team to compete in this years Olympics and for the first time ever we have a women’s eight and men’s lightweight four competing. In previous Olympics New Zealand has won 9 Gold, 2 Silver and 10 Bronze medals and we hope that we will add to this number during these games.

Some of the stars of our New Zealand team are Eric Murray and Hamish Bond in the men’s pair and Mahe Drysdale in the men’s single scull but you can check out all the athletes from the rowing team here.

Go New Zealand!!

New Zealand’s Olympic Heroes

New Zealand’s Olympic story began in 1908 and over the years Kiwi athletes have given us many memorable moments and have earned New Zealand the reputation for punching above its weight.

Our first Olympians competed as part of an ‘Australasian’ team in 1908 where Harry Kerr from Taranaki won our first medal with a bronze in the 3500m walk.

Our first official New Zealand team was in 1920 which included only four athletes. Darcy Hadfield was part of this team and he won a bronze medal in the single sculls.

New Zealand’s first individual gold medal winner was won by Ted Morgan in boxing at Amsterdam in 1928. And Yvette William became our first women gold medal winner in the long jump at the 1952 Helsinki games.

 

New Zealand has excelled in a variety of sports at different times. In the 1960s our runners did well. In the late 1960s and 1970s rowing became very successful. The 1980s saw a rise in New Zealand water sports such as canoeing, swimming and sailing. The 1980s and 1990s was a great time for our equestrians and in the 1990s our cyclist began to make their mark.

Some of our more notable Olympic medal winners include Peter Snell. He won three Olympic gold medals in track & field and in 2000 he was voted New Zealand Athlete of the Century. John Walker was our great miler, winning gold in the 1500m race (often consider the glamour event of the track & field) at the 1976 Montreal Olympic.

Then there is Ian Ferguson our canoeing great. Few New Zealanders have competed in more Olympic Games and no one has won as many medals or as many golds.

 

Lets not forget our current gold medal winners that are competing at the Rio Olympics now. Greats such at Valerie Adams, Lisa Carrington, Mahe Drysdale, and Mark Todd

If you would like to learn more about our great medal winning athletes as well as all our other athletes competing at the Rio games then click here.

Go New Zealand!!!

Equestrian Events at the Olympic Games

Equestrian is the sport of horse riding. It is one of the few Olympic sports in which men and women can compete against each other and is the only Olympic sport that involves animals.

Olympics EquestrianIt is a unique sport in that both horse and rider are considered to be a team, and both are declared medal winners. This is to recognise that it takes many years of training by horse and rider to develop the special skills required for these events.

Equestrian has three different disciplines. They are jumping, dressage and eventing. For each of the three disciplines, there is an individual and a team event.

Equestrian events date back to the Olympic Games in ancient Greece. The Greeks would train their horses to be useful during times of war. In 680BC, chariot races and horseraces were both contested at the Greek Games.

Jumping was the first equestrian event to be included in the modern Games. It was introduced in 1900. Dressage and eventing were added in 1912.

New Zealand has 8 member in the 2016 Equestrian team. They include riders such as Sir Mark Todd, Jonathan Paget and Jonelle Price. You can find lots of information about each team member here.

You can also find out lots of information relating to equestrian and other sports here at Rio 2016 Olympics.

Go New Zealand!!!!!!

Swimming events at the Olympic Games

The swimming competitions at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro are scheduled to take place from 6 to 13 August at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium. The open-water marathon will be held on 15 and 16 August in Fort Copacabana.

Olympic SwimmingA breath-taking sport (literally!), swimming has been in the Olympic Games since Athens 1896. Men and women participate in 16 events, including relays and individual competitions in four strokes – freestyle, breaststroke, butterfly and backstroke. Swimmers must complete a set distance inside the pool, in some cases using any of the above styles, in the shortest possible time

The swimming pool at the Rio Olympics is divided into eight competition lanes, each 2.5m wide.

Most events start from starting blocks, except for backstroke, where the swimmers start from inside the pool. Swimmers must not dive in before the starting pistol is fired – if this happens, a false start is declared and the swimmer at fault is disqualified.

At the Rio Olympics there are 789 athletes from 173 different countries competing in 32 swimming events. You can find out who’s competing from New Zealand at the NZ Olympics website.

Did you know: The pool at the Rio Olympics actually consists of two pools? One for the competition events, and another for warming up. The whole huge building is temporary – it’s designed to be dismantled after the Olympics Games have finished.

 

School yourself like a fish about swimming! Here’s some awesome books from our library collection:

   

 

 

History of Brazil – the Olympics host nation

The 2016 Olympics are being hosted by a South American country called Brazil. The events will all be happening in and around one of it’s main cities – Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil is just slightly smaller than the United States of America and is the largest country in South America.

The population of Brazil is made up of AmeriIndian indigenous people, and people of Spanish and Portuguese descent.  In the year 1500 the country was colonised by Portugal and with them came the sad tradition of slavery, which impacted the lives of the indigenous population greatly. Then over the following centuries many people came from other countries arrived because they were escaping wars, looking for a warm and beautiful country and seeking adventure.

This diverse mix of different cultures has created lots of different religious, music and culinary culture that is specific to Brazil.

One really good website to find information on Brazil is ManyAnswers.

Some cool Brazil facts: Brazil is the country which has the greatest number of animal species. Two of the major cities in Brazil are Rio de Janeiro and Saō Paulo. To fid out more you can take a look at the many interesting books about Brazil in the library collection or use Oddizzi through the library website.

 

Rio de Janeiro:

Rio de Janeiro (known as ‘Rio’) is a large city in Brazil and is the host city of the 2016 Olympics. It was the first capital city of Brazil. It has a Portuguese name and was founded in 1565, but didn’t become the capital city of Brazil until 1763.

In 1960 another city called Brasilia was founded and became the new Capital City instead of Rio. A famous Brazilian architect named Oscar Niemeyer designed the city of Brasilia. It is a planned city and it is designed to look like an aeroplane when viewed from above.

Rio de Janeiro has a large Roman Catholic population, so one of it’s most famous landmarks is the large statue called Jesus Christ the Redeemer, which is on top of Corcovado Mountain and looks out over the city.

The city is also famous for a Mountain called Sugarloaf Mountain which has a cable car.

A famous dance called The Samba comes from Rio, which is a mixture of African and Brazilian music and dance. Every year before the start of Lent near Easter time there is a Festival with a big parade called a Carnival. Lots of people get dressed up for it with very elaborate costumes and dance along the parade route and go on floats. People come from all over the world to see the Carnival.

Rio is also known for its famous beautiful beaches. The Copacabana, Ipanema, Barra da Tijuca. The Copacabana beach is where some of the big Olympic events are taking place.

Many places around Rio are being use as Olympic venues, and some have had to be specially built for the Olympic sports. It must be very exciting for the people who live in Rio.