Rower George Bridgewater aims for Rio Games
Former Olympic medallist George Bridgewater will make a surprise return to rowing as he eyes up a spot in the New Zealand team for Rio in 2016.
The 31-year-old is giving up a job in Singapore with global financial services firm Morgan Stanley as his desire for Olympic gold pulls him home.
Bridgewater, his wife, and two children, will relocate to Cambridge in August, and he will also be involved in a start-up business in the food industry in Auckland.
After winning gold with Nathan Twaddle in the pair at the world champs in 2005, the duo claimed bronze at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, having finished fourth at Athens in 2004.
In the 2009 New Year Honours, Bridgewater was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to rowing.
Bridgewater will put that dedication into his comeback.
"I'm going to need all of the 809 days left until the opening ceremony," he said.
"It is something I cannot achieve by training part time around a 12-hour work day. Unfortunately, there is no real competition in Singapore.
"Training with the NZ rowing squad is one of, if not, the best rowing training environments in the world and this intense daily competition provides the best possible path to reach Olympic medal standard."
Bridgewater admitted he didn't even know if he'd be able to handle the comeback, but that chasing a long-held dream of Olympic gold meant it was worth it, along with the benefits of a better lifestyle to bring up his family in New Zealand.
On his return the goal is to rejoin the national squad in October and earn selection in a crew in March next year - both of which he knows is certainly not guaranteed.
"I have put myself through a number of tests recently and after six months' part-time training, I am 2 to 3 per cent off my best 2000m erg time," Bridgewater said. "On the water, I'll face a stern test in just over a month's time. I will travel to Europe in June and race at Holland Beker regatta in Amsterdam, followed by Henley Royal Regatta in the UK in early July."