While most Kiwi eyes were on Super Rugby, the rowing exploits of Hamish Bond and Mahe Drysdale may have coopted a few lumens of the New Zealand sports spotlight.
Many people think of rowing only during Olympic years, but the rowers themselves have to think about it a lot and get out there and row in order to be fit when it is time to pull. Or paddle, or whatever is the proper term.
Drysdale hold two Olympic gold medals and he now seems to be testing the waters about representing New Zealand at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Drysdale floated the idea of competing for Fiji after he lost his seat in the men’s singles sculls to Robbie Manson. Manson was chosen for the 2019 World Cup that will be held in Europe later this year.
Bond is dipping his oar in because he has decided that he is not interested in his cycling code.
One thing rowing does not lack is variety. Bond and Drysdale have gone the route of the coxless pair code, which each of them manipulates just one oar, rather than two.
New Zealand, for such a tiny population, has an outsized impact on the sport of rowing. Three medals from Beijing in 2008 were followed by five from London in 2012.
A decade of dominance and the production of world-class rowers seemed to be on the ebb at Rio in 2016, with only two golds and one silver medal.
Last year’s World Championships did not produce any gold medals and the entire crew produced only three medals total.
Bond apparently decided that cycling was no longer his thing and he returned to rowing with an eye on getting on the men’s eight for Tokyo, but he achieved his greatest glory when partnered with Eric Murray in London and Rio, after which Murray shipped his oars and retired undefeated over the course of the eight years he rowed with Bond.