Tokyo Olympics: Kiwi rowers poised to kickstart NZ's Games campaign in historic fashion

New Zealand’s prowess on the water is set to continue at Tokyo 2020 and among our first athletes to compete are some of our greatest shots at gold. 

On Friday, the rowers will head to the starting blocks of Sea Forest Waterway for the first of their heats.

New Zealand has a long history of success in rowing, but at Tokyo the squad is ready to make some more - and kick off New Zealand’s Olympic campaign in golden style.

Ahead of Friday’s heats, Sea Forest Waterway is bustling, preparing to host NZ's biggest Olympic rowing squad ever.

Comprised of 32 athletes across nine crews - including 10 world champions - it’s a line up which promises plenty of podiums.

"We have so much expectation on ourselves, so most of the pressure comes from us coming out there and putting out the performance we really want," says women's pair and eight star Grace Prendergast.

The women’s eight are firm favourites. But for Kerri Gowler and Prendergast, there’s double the pressure, pulling double duty and racing the pair as well, as they eye an historic dual gold at a single Games.

"We feel as though we are fit enough, that we can handle the maximum number of races that we could have, which is a nice feeling knowing there’s no desperation going into a heat," says Gowler. 

The men haven’t won gold in the glamour event of the eight since the famous Munich race in 1972.

With two Olympic golds under his belt already, Hamish Bond knows there’s no participation podium and he’s certainly not here for a certificate.

"I think we are capable of getting on the podium and I think that would be a good result for us," says Bond.

Two years since their last international race, Friday will be the first clear look at the competition, and the Kiwis are more than ready to raise their medal tally from Rio 2016.

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