Ten World Champion female athletes and World Champion coxswain Caleb Shepherd will be amongst the New Zealand rowing squad at the Tokyo Olympic Games, with 32 rowers making up the full Olympic rowing team.
Gary Hay, who led New Zealand’s 2019 world champion women’s eight and women’s pair to gold, will again lead both crews to Tokyo. Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast will represent New Zealand in the women’s pair event, and also make up part of New Zealand’s women’s eight squad along with Jackie Gowler, Beth Ross, Phoebe Spoors, Kirstyn Goodger, Kelsey Bevan, Lucy Spoors, Emma Dyke, Ella Greenslade and coxswain Caleb Shepherd. Ten athletes have been selected to the eight, with the final makeup of the boat to be named prior to competition.
Olympic Summer Games
Gowler and Prendergast’s first Olympic campaign was 2016 where they finished fourth in the women’s eight.
“Representing New Zealand in my chosen sport is something I am incredibly proud to have achieved, especially alongside my long-time rowing partner Kerri,” said Prendergast.
“The opportunity to again showcase New Zealand’s strength in rowing at an Olympic Games is very special to me, and to do so alongside such talented teammates is a dream come true.’’
"I hope that our team’s success come Tokyo will inspire another generation of female rowers, as I was inspired at a young age.’’
Brooke Donoghue will compete with Hannah Osborne in the highly competitive women’s double scull event. Donoghue and Osborne are coached by James Coote, who in 2019 led both the women’s double and lightweight women’s double crews to World Champion status.
Donoghue, who earlier this year won the national title in the women’s single scull event, also praised New Zealand’s talented women’s rowing squad.
“One of the biggest strengths of our team is the competitiveness which has been an asset, especially given we haven’t raced internationally for 2 years. We always want the best for each other, and I am excited to put on the silver fern and race with my team,” said Donoghue.
Olivia Loe, Eve Macfarlane, Ruby Tew and Georgia Nugent-O’Leary will make up New Zealand’s women’s quad. Macfarlane competed at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games in the women’s quad and double respectively. Loe, Macfarlane, Tew and Nugent-O’Leary are coached by Mike Rodger.
Emma Twigg, also coached by Rodger, will represent New Zealand in the women’s single scull for the fourth time at an Olympic Games, after coming extremely close to a medal in both London and Rio.
Jordan Parry will make his Olympic debut as New Zealand’s men’s single sculler. Parry first represented New Zealand as part of the U21 Trans-Tasman team in 2014 and has more recently been a part of New Zealand’s U23 and elite men’s quad. Parry is coached by Gary Roberts.
Chris Harris and Jack Lopas make up New Zealand’s double scull crew. Harris represented New Zealand in the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games in both the men’s four and men’s quad, while 2021 marks the first occasion Lopas will represent New Zealand at an elite level, after gaining silver in the men’s double at the 2019 World Rowing U23 Championships. Harris and Lopas are coached by Calvin Ferguson.
At 21 years old, Dan Williamson is the youngest member of the New Zealand Rowing Team competing in Tokyo. Williamson joins Matt MacDonald, Tom Mackintosh, Philip Wilson, Shaun Kirkham, Hamish Bond, Michael Brake, Tom Murray and coxswain Sam Bosworth in the men’s eight crew, who gained qualification at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in May 2021. Bond won gold in the men’s pair at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games alongside Eric Murray. Bond and Murray have also claimed World Best Times in two boat classes – the men’s pair and men’s coxed pair – and both these times still stand today. The New Zealand men’s eight is coached by Tony O’Connor.
Stephen Jones and Brook Robertson make up the men’s coxless pair event, also coached by Tony O’Connor.
Charlotte Spence, Davina Waddy and Ollie Maclean will travel as reserves for the New Zealand rowing team. Many of the athletes have also been granted permission to start in other boats in the event of any injuries.
Rowing NZ General Manager of Performance Judith Hamilton, says the team naming is a key milestone with just over a month until competition.
“After what was an incredibly tough postponement for all Kiwi athletes, we are incredibly proud to finalise our Olympic team. We are confident in the ability and potential of our athletes and look forward to competing on the world stage,” said Hamilton.
“It’s especially wonderful to see so many of our female rowers representing New Zealand at an Olympic Games and in many cases, entering the Games as World Champions."
NZOC CEO Kereyn Smith extended her congratulations to the athletes.
“New Zealand has an extremely proud history in rowing at the Olympic Games. It's one of our most successful sports with our rowers earning us a staggering 24 Olympic medals. We look forward to watching these fantastic athletes add to that legacy in Tokyo next month.”
The naming of the rowing squad takes the total number of athletes selected to the New Zealand team to 117.