Nathan Cohen's first foray into Olympic competition ended disappointingly when he and Rob Waddell were edged out of the medals in Beijing in 2008. Before he was done, however, Cohen had won two world titles and an Olympic gold medal and was regarded as one of the greats of New Zealand rowing.
Cohen was born in Christchurch in 1986 and raised in Invercargill.
He started rowing in 2000. He won the boys under-18 single sculls event at the New Zealand secondary school championships in 2003, while attending James Hargest High School.
In 2003 and 2004, Cohen was second in the junior world championships single sculls final and in 2005, he took the silver medal in the world under-23 championships.
Cohen really broke through in 2006. He won the single sculls gold medal at the World University Games in Lithuania, the first New Zealander to win a gold medal at a World University Games in any sport.
In addition, he was a silver medallist at the world under-23 championships in Belgium, and a gold medal in the Commonwealth regatta in Scotland.