If there’s one domain New Zealand absolutely excels in, it’s sport. The country has brought us many noteworthy athletes across various disciplines, from rugby to track and field and beyond. Here are of the famous names who have made their mark in the sporting world. Let’s exploce The Best Athletes from New Zealand below.
The Best Athletes from New Zealand
Before winning the 2015 PGA Championship, Jason Day gained fame for being the gracious bridesmaid in several Major tournaments. In September of 2015 he made it to World No. 1 for the first of three occasions, staying there for a collective total of 51 weeks. At the start of May, Day won the Wells Fargo Championship by two strokes for his second PGA victory of the season, following his Farmers Insurance Open win in January. The victory has the Beaudesert born 30 year old on course to move up to No. 7 in the world.
And while Day draws plaudits for his style of play and laid back attitude away from the course, his fame was briefly eclipsed by wife Ellie in 2015 when LeBron James landed in her lap during an NBA game in Cleveland. In 2017, Jason Day tearfully announced that his mother had been diagnosed with lung cancer. He pulled out of several tournaments to help her through the successful surgery, saying the golf course was furthest from his mind during the difficult time. “Emotionally it’s been wearing on me for a while. And I know my mum says not to let it get to me, but it really has,” Day said. Day lost his father to cancer when he was 12 years old and his mother raised the three Day children on her own, often struggling financially.
Whatever Nick Kyrgios does on or off the court is always major news in Australia. The enigmatic, wildly talented 23 year old polarises his home nation, who revel in his power packed on court wizardry but bemoan his all too often off court controversies. Every ace, cross court winner or even trademark “tweener” Kyrgios hits can draw gasps of admiration from fans and rivals alike many who foresee Grand Slam glory for the Canberra born talent but those gasps turn to grumbles when he stumbles into another controversy.
His talent is unquestionable: On his first encounters with Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, he beat them all. Yet his mental strength has often been found wanting witness his fines and suspension for tanking. As captivating on social media as he is in media appearances, Kyrgios is one of Australia’s most engaging characters and he appears to finally be maturing as a person.
Richie McCaw is probably one of New Zealand’s most renowned rugby union players. He retired from the sports field in 2015 after becoming one of only 20 players to lead the national All Blacks team into two World Cup Victories (in 2011 and 2015), as well as captaining the team to gain 51 victories in 58 tests.
McCaw made his national debut in 2001, playing for the Crusaders and Canterbury teams, and was selected to play in the All Blacks’ end of year tour not long after.
Four time Olympic shot put champion Valerie Adams is one of a select few to win world championship titles at the youth, junior and senior levels in any athletic event. She is also the first woman to win four consecutive titles at the world track and field championships, and her personal best throw with a distance of 21.24 metres (69.9 feet) earned her the New Zealand, Oceanian, Commonwealth and World Championship records. She was recognised on the 2016 New Year’s Honours List, being named Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
Professional golfer Lydia Ko became the number one ranked woman in February 2015 when she was only 17 years old. That makes her the youngest player of any gender to reach the highly coveted top position. Later in the same year, when she had turned 18, Ko became the youngest woman to win a major championship.
Before embarking on her international, record breaking career, Lydia Ko had already earned her spot as the top ranked woman amateur golfer a title she held tightly onto for 130 weeks. This is once of The Best Athletes from New Zealand.