Biggest NZ rowing squad named for Olympics

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New Zealand will take its biggest ever rowing squad to an Olympics with a 32 strong squad selected to compete at Tokyo next month.

The squad surpasses the 31 rowers sent to Rio in 2016.

There are ten world champion women rowers in the team and all up there will be nine crews.

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Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast will contest the women’s pair event, and also make up part of women’s eight squad along with Jackie Gowler, Beth Ross, Phoebe Spoors, Kirstyn Goodger, Kelsey Bevan, Lucy Spoors, Emma Dyke, Ella Greenslade and coxswain Caleb Shepherd.

Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast at the 2019 Rowing World Champs.
Photo: © Steve McArthur / @RowingCelebration

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Ten rowers have been selected to the eight, with the final makeup of the boat yet to be decided.

Gary Hay, who led New Zealand’s 2019 world champion women’s eight and women’s pair to gold, will again lead both crews to Tokyo.

Gowler and Prendergast’s first Olympic campaign was 2016 where they finished fourth in the women’s eight.

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“Representing New Zealand in my chosen sport is something I am incredibly proud to have achieved, especially alongside my long-time rowing partner Kerri,” said Prendergast.

“The opportunity to again showcase New Zealand’s strength in rowing at an Olympic Games is very special to me, and to do so alongside such talented teammates is a dream come true.”

“I hope that our team’s success come Tokyo will inspire another generation of female rowers, as I was inspired at a young age.”

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Brooke Donoghue will compete with Hannah Osborne in the women’s double scull

“One of the biggest strengths of our team is the competitiveness which has been an asset, especially given we haven’t raced internationally for 2 years. We always want the best for each other, and I am excited to put on the silver fern and race with my team,” said Donoghue.

Olivia Loe, Eve Macfarlane, Ruby Tew and Georgia Nugent-O’Leary will make up New Zealand’s women’s quad.

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Emma Twigg will compete in the women’s single scull for the fourth time at an Olympic Games, after narrowly missing out on a medal in London and Rio.

Jordan Parry will make his Olympic debut as New Zealand’s men’s single sculler – having edged out two time Olympic champion Mahe Drysdale for the spot.

Parry first represented New Zealand as part of the U21 Trans-Tasman team in 2014 and has more recently been a part of New Zealand’s U23 and elite men’s quad.

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Chris Harris and Jack Lopas make up New Zealand’s double scull crew. Harris represented New Zealand in the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games in both the men’s four and men’s quad, while 2021 marks the first occasion Lopas will represent New Zealand at an elite level, after gaining silver in the men’s double at the 2019 World Rowing U23 Championships.

Dan Williamson,21, is the youngest member of the New Zealand team.

Williamson joins Matt MacDonald, Tom Mackintosh, Philip Wilson, Shaun Kirkham, Hamish Bond, Michael Brake, Tom Murray and coxswain Sam Bosworth in the men’s eight crew, who only gained qualification at the final qualification regatta last month.

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Bond won gold in the men’s pair at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games alongside Eric Murray.

Eric Murray, Hamish Bond and Mahe Drysdale won't be part of the New Zealand's international rowing programme in 2017.

Eric Murray, Hamish Bond and Mahe Drysdale in Rio in 2016. Only Bond (centre) will be back for Tokyo.
Photo: Photosport

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Bond and Murray have also claimed World Best Times in two boat classes – the men’s pair and men’s coxed pair.

Stephen Jones and Brook Robertson make up the men’s coxless pair.

Rowing NZ general manager of performance Judith Hamilton, said the team naming is a milestone with just over a month until competition.

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“After what was an incredibly tough postponement for all Kiwi athletes, we are incredibly proud to finalise our Olympic team. We are confident in the ability and potential of our athletes and look forward to competing on the world stage,” said Hamilton.

“It’s especially wonderful to see so many of our female rowers representing New Zealand at an Olympic Games and in many cases, entering the Games as World Champions.”

Rowing has been one of New Zealand’s most successful Olympic sports having won 24 medals.

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The naming of the rowing squad takes the total number of athletes selected to the New Zealand team to 117.

-RNZ

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