Tokyo Olympics: Hamish Bond targets more Olympic medals as part of New Zealand's rowing eight

New Zealand's Olympic rowing eight aren't just hoping to qualify for the Tokyo Games - they're there to win medals, insists champion sculler Hamish Bond.

Currently preparing to fly to Lucerne next month for a final qualifying regatta, Bond,35, is part of the crew looking to qualify for Tokyo, before a shot at a first eights medal since bronze at Montreal 1976.

Going back even further, New Zealand last won gold in the men's eight at Munich 1972 - nearly half a century ago.

Bond, Dan Williamson, Matt MacDonald, Michael Brake, Phillip Wilson, Shaun Kirkham, Tom Mackintosh and Tom Murray make up the crew preparing for qualifying meets in Europe.

Among those gone is reigning Olympic single sculls champion Mahe Drysdale, who left the line-up in an unsuccessful bid to reclaim his solo spot at Tokyo.

Bond tells Newshub he believes the current Kiwi crew can return New Zealand to the eights podium.

"I'm confident that we can qualify," he says. "But if we were just looking to qualify, I wouldn't be here. 

"I'm here to win medals. I think that's what we can do with the group.

"Individually, we are as good as any crew I think that's been assembled in terms of an eight.

"We're really strong individually. [We have] multiple medallists from the pair, rowing machine times are really strong.

"But success in the eight is being able to have the sum of the parts better than the parts themselves. It's beneficial to have really good parts to start with, but I think our success will be determined by how well we can collectively get the best out of ourselves."

Along with Eric Murray, Bond won two Olympic pairs golds at London 2012 and Rio 2016, carving a record that saw them named as Halberg Awards Supreme Decade Champions this month.

So despite his confidence and pedigree, Bond knows the challenge facing him and his eights crewmates, as they chase the final trophy missing from New Zealand rowing's cabinet.

"It's the one thing in the sport, in New Zealand, that we haven't achieved in the last sort of 20 years," he tells Newshub. "We've basically won everything else and achieved everything in the sport, except for the eight.

"The women got that a couple of years ago at world champs, and [are] obviously looking to kick on and convert that at the Olympics, but in terms of the men's squad, it's probably the glaring omission."

"It's been, I guess, challenging, trying to take on something that's unprecedented in recent history for New Zealand rowing, in getting success in the eight.

"It's been a real challenging process, but I'm confident in the group of guys that we've assembled. We just have to put a collective harness around the individual abilities we do have, which are really strong."

With the Tokyo Games delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the men's eight head to Europe with an extra 12 months of preparation under their collective belts.

But despite his status as one of the senior members of the Kiwi rowing contingent, Bond is adamant he's feeling as good as he ever has as an athlete.

"We haven't competed since 2019 and we've got four guys remaining from that crew. We're a different crew, more experienced. 

"We had some pretty young guys back in 2019, but they've really kicked on in the last two years, so for them, this extra year has been a benefit. 

"It gave me an extra year to come back from cycling, but luckily, I feel I'm as strong as I've ever been as an athlete and fortunately I've been able to maintain that into my more advanced years."