New Zealand athletes have a knack of stepping up on the Saturday of any Olympics and the Special Olympics World Summer Games followed that tradition with three gold, four silver and two bronze medal in the space of a few hours.
The total of 34 medals in Berlin so far is two more than the record set at the Abu Dhabi World Summer Games four years ago.
The golds on Super Saturday were nicely spread across the sporting codes with sprinter Melissa Cash, tenpin bowler Len Just and powerlifter Lynnette Williams all claiming top honours.
Williams was the pick of the bunch by claiming not just a gold, but a full set with one gold, two silvers and a bronze in the over 84kg class.
The Southlander faced some huge competition from strong Icelandic lifter Maria Sigarjonsdotter who was a whopping 22.5kg ahead of Williams in the opening squat.
Williams however would not be denied in her favourite deadlift event, where she lifted 105kg to claim the gold.
In bench-press though, both lifters were pipped by Kadafie Anthony from Trinidad who grabbed an unexpected gold.
In the overall rankings, the three scores for Williams were enough to claim the overall silver.
In athletics, Melissa Cash had set the tone for all the Kiwi bling with a blistering 100m win in the morning to claim the first Kiwi gold.
The Taranaki sprinter had already won a bronze in the mini-javelin, but on Saturday was far too good for her division, running away with the gold far from the finish line.
“I’m so super proud. I’m really excited to share my medals with Mum and Dad back home,” said Cash who still had strong family support through coach and uncle Nigel.
The Taranaki coach has the distinction of being the first Special Olympics athlete to compete and coach at two World Summer Games and could barely control his emotions.
“It is has been a real pleasure to get her here to Berlin. It has been 15 years of hard work for Melissa to get here, so she deserved her medals,” said Nigel Cash.
Cash had been inspired by fellow sprinter Jamie Davidson from Manawatu who had picked up silver over 100m in the first race of the day.
The Pahiatua speedster was not fast enough to catch Li Ting Du from Chinese Taipei, but his 17.88secs was good enough to claim silver.
He then earned another bronze as part of the New Zealand 4×100 relay team, which also included Quentin Mahoney and Matthew Di Leva from Wellington and Joshua Taylor from Masterton.
The third gold for New Zealand came courtesy of ten-pin bowler Len Just who showed that age means nothing when the competitive juices start flowing.
The 55-year-old from Tauranga pulled out two terrific frames of 160 and 191 in the men’s singles competition, only to hang on to his top spot by a small margin when the final frame delivered a score of 117.
For the Bay of Plenty athlete, it completes a fantastic World Summer Games after he earlier also earned a bronze medal in both the team event and the men’s doubles competition.
The final medal of the day arrived in the bocce men’s doubles competition in a nail-biting gold medal match against Costa Rica.
The scores ebbed and flowed multiple times, only for the New Zealand pair of Levin’s Aaron Campbell and Rangiora’s Blair Smith to fall agonisingly short, losing 10-9 after 30 minutes of high-quality competition.
“It was an amazing match,” said Campbell who had won the singles gold medal earlier in the week.
“Losing the final is quite different,” the Horowhenua bowler grinned.
“But we played a hell of a game and I am really proud of Blair and myself.”
The New Zealand 3×3 Unified basketball team had a similar heartbreak in the bronze medal match against Kenya, falling short in the final seconds after leading 14-13 with 20 second to go.
Berlin was the first time New Zealand had fielded a Unified basketball team and Waikato coach Simone Kokaua said she could not be prouder of her team.
“It’s all part of the learning.”
The World Summer Games will wrap up on Sunday night local time with a closing ceremony at the Brandenburg Gate before the New Zealand delegation flies home with their record medal haul.