Storm Uru, born in Invercargill in 1985, has one of the most unforgettable names in New Zealand sport.

His parents were Bill and Robbie Uru and he is of Ngai Tahu descent. His first name came, he said, from a vow his father once made. "He used to sail yachts from the Pacific Islands to New Zealand and one time he got caught in a bad storm. He promised himself that if he got through it, he would name his first-born Storm, and he did. I really like it - it's a cool name."

Uru is notable for a lot more than just his name. He is a world champion and an Olympic medallist and was one of the star performers in a golden age for the sport in New Zealand.

At James Hargest High School in Invercargill he rowed, but no more seriously than he did snowboarding, skiing, snorkelling (his father was an instructor) or many other sports. "Anything outdoors I was into it. I was very, very active. I really only attended school for something to do between sports."

After he left school he began to take rowing more seriously. It had been difficult at school because he was small and would get beaten by bigger rowers. But once he left school, he competed in lightweight classes and excelled. 

The big name in New Zealand rowing at the time was Rob Waddell, and Uru admired him for his achievements. However, he said he drew inspiration more from international figures such as Nelson Mandela, people who held fast to their principles no matter what the adversity.

He hit the rowing headlines as an under-23 single sculls lightweight rower, finishing third in the world champs, then winning back-to-back golds. The problem was that there was no such event at the Olympics, so he instead became part of a double sculls team with Peter Taylor.

"Four of us trialled for the double sculls. We were all world champions, either in the under-23 or elite grade. We had six months of rigorous testing, and Peter and I came through. When we got in the boat we could make it go seriously fast, but we were inexperienced."

Uru and Taylor went to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but they were relative novices in double sculling, having been together only a short time. "We made the final and finished seventh, but that was very disappointing. We had the ability, as we showed later, but lacked experience. We made a lot of mistakes, which we learnt from."

Over the next four years, they became one of the leading crews in international rowing, winning the world title in Poznan in 2009, finishing third at Lake Karapiro in 2010 and second in Bled in 2011. 

At the 2012 London Olympics, they were second in their heat, behind Britain, and second behind Danes Mads Rasmussen and Rasmus Quist Hansen in their semi-final. The Danes were too slick in the final, Britain were second and Uru and Taylor held off the French pair comfortably enough for the bronze.

Throughout his rowing career, Uru was coached by Calvin Ferguson.

Uru was always careful to ensure he had a full life off the water as well. He cut back on some of his other sports pursuits, including golf, snowboarding and snorkelling, and instead he focused on study. 

He attended Canterbury University for three years, concentrating mainly on aspects of science. Then he had seven years at Massey University and two at Waikato. His focus switched more to finance and business and he completed his masters degree in international business.

After the Olympics, rowing took a back seat. He spent some time in Wellington, working for the Bank of New Zealand's financial markets team on the cash funding desk and then in 2013 moved to England, taking up the challenge of studying for an MBA at Oxford University. He was named in the Oxford squad for the 2014 Boat Race.

Though rowing occupied a lot of Uru's time, he also become involved in mentoring several aspiring sports champions, part of the "Pinnacle Programme" that works with future champions. Among them have been Paralympic gold medallist Adam Hall and league player Elijah Taylor. However, it's a two-way thing. He was for several years mentored by former All Black captain John Graham, thriving on Graham's honesty and ability to empathise.

Storm's brother, Jade, rowed in the New Zealand coxless four at the London Olympics.

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Storm's Games History

  • Olympic Summer Games London 2012

    • Rowing (Lightweight Double Scull - Men)
      Final A 6:40.86
      Semifinal A/B 1 6:36.71 FA
      Heat 2 6:37.02 S_A/B
  • Olympic Summer Games Beijing 2008

    • Rowing (Lightweight Double Scull - Men)
      Final B 6:27.14
      Semifinal A/B - Race 02 6:30.53
      Heat 04 6:16.78
      Placed 7 of 20