Tokyo Olympics: Rowing legends salute latest generation of Games gold medallists

No-one was happier to see Friday's Olympic rowing success - and the end to men's eight medal drought - than one of Munich 1972 winning crew members.

He couldn't be in Tokyo to witness the occasion, so their rowing fraternity gathered in Blenheim to cheer them on instead.

The living room was packed with NZ rowing royalty glued to every stroke from our team in Tokyo and then - the result everyone hoped for.

Athol Earl celebrated the same success as part of the gold-winning men's eight crew at Munich 1972.

"Brilliant, bloody brilliant," he says.  

Nearly five decades later, the passion is just as strong.

"It's much more stressful watching, because at least when you're racing, you can do something about it. Everything those guys have put in, it's just amazing.

"It does make me feel old," says Ivan Sutherland, eights bronze medallist at Montreal 1976. "But I feel overjoyed for the success that has come." 

And there's been plenty of it, with Kiwis dominating the sport for generations and this year securing the best rowing result at an Olympic campaign so far.

"As a country, we punch above our weight," says Sutherland. "There's a lot of time and effort gone in, and of course the athlete's commitment."

These guys reckon it's a testament to New Zealand's rowing community and they all appreciate the hard yards required to get there.

"It takes a while to build these crews up to get them to where they want them," says Earl. "It's unbelievable. 

"I don't know how they're feeling, because I'm out of this world."