Juliette Haigh rounded out a stellar rowing career by teaming with Rebecca Scown to win the bronze medal in the women’s pair at the 2012 London Olympics.
For Haigh, it was a case of third time lucky. She’d been a finalist in the previous two Olympics, but come up short of a medal each time.
Haigh, born in Auckland in 1982, took up rowing while attending Takapuna Grammar. On leaving school she joined the powerful West End club and over the years won a string of national titles for the club.
She made her international debut in 2003 and the following year she and Nicky Coles contested the women’s pair at the 2004 Athens Olympics. They rowed well, but could not make an impact in the final and finished a sixth and last.
A year later, at Gifu, Japan, Haigh and Coles were part of New Zealand’s world championship gold medal deluge. They couldn’t quite repeat the feat at Dorney Lake, Eton, in 2006, claiming the silver.
At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, they were disappointed with their fifth placing, after looking likely medallists. They were second in their heat, won their repecharge race and never really fired in the final.
Haigh took a year off top-level rowing in 2009 and when she returned, she linked with Rebecca Scown in another successful partnership.
Haigh and Scown won back-to-back pairs world championship titles at Lake Karapiro in 2010 and Bled, Slovenia, and were tipped as possible gold medallists at the 2012 Olympics.
As it happened they were outgunned in the final, beaten by the strong British crew of Helen Glover and Heather Stanning and the fast-finishing Australians, Kate Horsney and Sarah Tait. The Britons were too good and won clearly, but Australia, New Zealand and the United States finished within half a second of each other. Haigh and Scown pipped the Americans for the bronze by 0.2s.
Haigh was noted for her strong work ethic and by 2012 had become a senior figure in the strong New Zealand rowing squad.
She retired at the end of 2012. During her international career her pairs teams were coached first by Marion Hornell, then Dick Tonks, and finally John Robinson.
In 2013, she married fellow world champion and Olympic medallist Mahe Drysdale.