I'm very proud to be a New Zealander who used to row. New Zealand's Rowing crews have performed with top marks again overseas against stiff international competition. Most people will have heard of rowing's success at the recent world cup regatta at Lucerne. However they may not realise the significance. Lucerne is a really major regatta held every year just before world champs. Given that we are just over a year away from the Olympics, crews are starting to show all their cards.
Typically in the 2 years after an Olympics, the level of racing quietens slightly with some athletes taking time out or retiring. Then it builds up again to a climax in the Olympic year - that's the one everyone wants. The New Zealand Rowers recent results are really positive because they have shown they have many crews capable of winning even with all other countries running at full steam in a pre-Olympic year. Quite possibly the most telling of these was the men’s pair of Eric Murray and Hamish Bond who soundly dealt to their main opposition - the confident British. I am sure the British will improve in time for this year's world champs which are just over a month away, but if they don’t achieve any success they may well face been 'shifted' into another British crew leaving Bond and Murray in prime position for next year's Olympics. This was one of many great results!
There has been a quantum shift in results for NZ rowing over the last 10 years. When I was competing at Sydney, making an international final was an outstanding achievement, now it is the common standard. This has not happened by chance. Of interest to outsiders of the sport it comes down to the work ethic of the NZ rowing Team, I believe this would be unequalled - both by other sports in NZ and against other rowing nations. In short they work very very hard. Every training session is hard, long and tough to the point where what they do in racing is relatively pleasant compared to some of the sessions they do in training. They certainly earn their success.
Next year will be tougher again, but we are looking good for several Olympic medals and maybe a few of the best colour.