Rowing: Olympic champs Mahe Drysdale, Hamish Bond make NZ eights squad

Reigning Olympic champions Hamish Bond and Mahe Drysdale are through to the next stage of their rowing re-invention as members of the NZ 'sweep' squad for the 2019 campaign.

Their selection in the 14-man squad means Drysdale has all-but abandoned his bid to defend the single sculls crown at next year's Tokyo Olympics, while Bond is returning to the river, after failing to crack the national track cycling programme.

New Zealand rowing has a proud tradition in eights, winning gold medals at the 1972 Munich Olympics, and back-to-back world titles in 1982-83, but has enjoyed greater success in smaller boats more recently.

Bond, 33, and Drysdale, 40, have been a big part of that glory. Bond and Eric Murray captured seven world pairs titles and two Olympic golds, before the Bond switched to cycling and Murray retired after the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Drysdale has five world titles and two Olympic golds in his résumé, but now has fallen behind Robbie Manson in the singles pecking order.   

"Coming through the ranks of rowing, I always admired the feats of the 1972 eight," says Drysdale. "One of my early coaches was Tony Hurt, who stroked the boat and showed us his medal - that has always stuck with me.

"The eight is a very different boat to the single. There are a lot more moving parts and inherent risk, but the dream is certainly worth a shot.

"We have a great bunch of keen, young men, and I am looking forward to working with them and teaming up with 'Bondy' for the first time."

In rowing, 'sweeping' refers to one oarsman operating an oar on one side of the boat, as opposed to 'sculling', where the rower operates two oars, one on each side of the boat.

Drysdale has left the door slightly ajar on his single-sculls aspirations. If the eight falls short of qualifying for Tokyo, he could still return to the solo boat and chase Manson for his berth.

Or those who miss out on the eight crew may end up in a four, where Bond has also won a world title early in his career.

The challenge for Drysdale and Bond will be adapting their small-boat mentality - they're used to operating, essentially, by themselves - to a wider team approach, where everyone needs to be on the same page. 

"When I returned to rowing in early March, I was clear that I had achieved everything I set out to in the men's pair," says Bond. 

"Representing New Zeland in the men's eight is a challenge that I'm eager to undertake and being selected into Rowing NZ's men's sweep squad is the first milestone towards that challenge.

"Being part of a bigger crew and working with some of the talented athletes named into the sweep squad alongside me is incredibly exciting."

The full 2019 NZ rowing squad is:


Single scull - Emma Twigg, Mike Rodger (coach)

Coxless pair - Kerri Gowler, Grace Prendergast, Gary Hay (coach)

Double scull - Olivia Loe, Brooke Donoghue, James Coote (coach)

Lightweight double scull - Zoe McBride, Jackie Kiddle, Gary Hay (coach)

Lightweight single scull - Sophie Mackenzie, Gary Hay (coach)

Sweep squad - Beth Ross, Davina Waddy, Ella Greenslade, Emma Dyke, Eve Macfarlane, Jackie Gowler, Kelsey Bevan, Kelsi Walters, Kirstyn Goodger, Lucy Spoors, Phoebe Spoors, Ruby Tew, Dan Kelly (coach)

Reserves - Sam Voss, Hannah Osborne, James Coote (coach)


Single scull - Robbie Manson, Mike Rodger (coach)

Coxless pair - Tom Murray, Michael Brake, Gary Roberts (coach)

Double scull - Chris Harris, John Storey, Calvin Ferguson (coach)

Lightweight double scull - Harrison Somerville, Matt Dunham, Calvin Ferguson (coach)

Lightweight single scull - Ben van Dalen, Calvin Ferguson (coach)

Quad sculling squad - Cameron Crampton, Isaac Grainger, Jordan Parry, Lewis Hollows, Nathan Flannery, Mark Stallard (coach)

Sweep squad - Anthony Allen, Ben Taylor, Brook Robertson, Hamish Bond, Ian Seymour, James Lassche, Mahe Drysdale, Matt MacDonald, Phillip Wilson, Sam Jones, Shaun Kirkham, Stephen Jones, Thomas Russel, Tom Mackintosh, Tony O’Connor & Gary Roberts (coaches)

Coxswains - Caleb Shepherd, Sam Bosworth