Gamble gives golden glory

Happy payoff: Graeme Rose at the Oxley's Rock Hotel in Picton on Thursday night. Mr Rose has sponsored Joseph Sullivan since 2005
Happy payoff: Graeme Rose at the Oxley's Rock Hotel in Picton on Thursday night. Mr Rose has sponsored Joseph Sullivan since 2005

When Graeme Rose took a punt on two young Picton rowers who needed financial support seven years ago, he never dreamt of the sheer joy and delight that gamble would bring.

He was at Oxleys Rock Hotel in Picton, along with more than 100 other supporters, yelling his heart out as Joseph Sullivan and Nathan Cohen stormed home to win Olympic gold in the double sculls rowing final.

Rose is the owner of the Christchurch-based business, Window Treatments NZ Ltd. He had never sponsored a sportsman but sitting at traffic lights in Christchurch one day in 2005 he heard this writer talking on Murray Deaker's sports show.

The discussion revolved around Joseph Sullivan and Daniel Karena from the Picton Rowing Club and how they had been originally left out of the New Zealand junior rowing squad for the World Championships but were reinstated on appeal.

The selection was great but they needed a lot of money to fund their trip to Brandenburg in Germany. Rose got in touch with various people, getting a background on the rowers, and decided it was a great cause and ended up funding a considerable part of the trip.

He's continued to sponsor Sullivan every year since and Thursday's Olympic triumph was the ultimate payback.

"I felt immense pride. I feel so privileged to have known the guy and to have been part of the whole thing in a small way," Mr Rose said. "It's quite humbling really - in fact, that race, I don't think I've felt so emotional watching a sports event. It was just a great feeling."

Although it was a punt, sponsorship-wise, to stay with Sullivan from the start when he was just making his way in the sport, Rose said it was never about the payback. "It was breaking new ground for us [Window Treatments]. It wasn't done from a commercial point of view. I didn't have any expectations at all for any return on the investment.

"I've got a return from the absolute sheer joy of watching a guy from a little South Island town with a wonderful family and fantastic supporters and club, go on to win the ultimate prize."

While he acknowledged the support from many quarters helped Sullivan, it all came down in the end to the athlete himself.

"None of this would have happened without the sheer determination and guts from the athlete himself. He's a magnificent guy and so humble. I can't speak highly enough of him."

The Marlborough Express