Rowing: Hamish Bond and Eric Murray win prestigious Thomas Keller Medal

Kiwi rowers Hamish Bond and Eric Murray have received the Thomas Keller Medal - the sport’s highest honour - to celebrate their record-breaking career.

They become the second New Zealand pair to win the award, after the Ever-Swindell twins, Caroline and Georgina, claimed the prestigious award in 2016.

Bond and Murray beat out Jeremie Azou of France, Kim Brennan of Australia, Caryn Davies of the United States, Heather Stanning of Great Britain and Andrew Triggs-Hodge of Great Britain.

The Thomas Keller Medal is awarded to any athlete/pair within five years of his/her retirement from the sport. It recognises an exceptional rowing career, as well as exemplary sportsmanship.

But, Bond almost seems puzzled to receive it as, in his own words, he "hasn't shut the door" on a return to the sport.

Rowing: Hamish Bond and Eric Murray win prestigious Thomas Keller Medal
Photo credit: Photosport

"To be recognised amongst the legends of the sport internationally is pretty special," Bond told Newshub.

"Technically, I don’t think I've retired, but to get that recognition is pretty cool. I didn’t retire, I just picked up a new challenge.

"Anything I do, I go all-in, and this is part of that.

"I can't part-time row or part-time cycle, and right now, I'm going all-in on cycling, but I certainly haven't shut the door on cycling either."

But the award though has been given to the 'Kiwi Pair', and because Murray has officially retired from rowing, they are collectively eligible.

Bond and Murray had an illustrious career on the water, dominating the men's coxless pair since 2009.

They won two Olympics golds in London 2012 and Rio four years later - to go along with the seven straight world rowing championship gold medals, including one as a coxed pair.

Rowing: Hamish Bond and Eric Murray win prestigious Thomas Keller Medal
Photo credit: Photosport

"Most people are nominated as individuals, but given that our success was linked, it seems fitting to be nominated and win together."

Their most impressive was an unprecedented 69-race winning streak that started back in 2009. They also set a world's best time during the London Olympic heats that still stands.

Bond admits that, as the years rolled on and the wins kept adding up, it became much harder to be successful.

"Both of us certainly put lots of pressure on ourselves to perform to our capabilities.  

"It got to the point where, if we were going well, we should win and it takes joy away from those wins.

"When you're expected to win, and you do win, it is like another and as much as we enjoyed it, it took a toll on us towards the end."

For now, Bond's focus remains solely on cycling. He is currently in the UK for some time- trial racing and working on his position on the bike to improve aerodynamics.

Bond and Murray will receive their award from Dominik Keller - son of the former FISA president Thomas Keller - during a Rowing World Cup regatta at Lucerne, Switzerland on July 14.


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