The new Kiwi lightweight men's double sculls crew have already got a taste of how taxing the step up to elite senior level is.
Alistair Bond and Adam Ling will represent New Zealand at the remaining two World Cup regattas in Europe before contesting the world championships in Amsterdam in August.
Bond has been hampered with an injury as the duo look to make their mark in the class of boat that Storm Uru and Peter Taylor won bronze in at the 2012 London Olympics.
"It's been pretty tough," Bond admitted.
"I've had a mixed buildup; I got injured six weeks ago so I've spent about a third of the time since the team was named out of the boat.
"So, whether or not that's due to training load I don't know - it's probably more just my weak body, I think," he laughed.
Bond had suffered a rib stress fracture, a common rowing injury.
"It's something I've just got to learn to manage. I've had to sit on the bike and drive myself insane a bit while I recovered."
Ling agreed the increase in training intensity was noticeable.
"Last year I was in the under-23 team and this year it doesn't even really compare," he said.
"The kilometres are probably about the same, but the intensity is just at another level."
Ling and Bond spent most of summer at Lake Karapiro in the same training group but didn't race in the same boat a lot, so have been working on their combination since earning their place in the team.
"It's all parts of the stroke, technical, tactical and psychological - it's all those different facets you need to have right if you're going to get the best out of the boat," Bond said.
"Technically we're always working on things every day, both individually and together - little feel things that will hopefully make the boat go faster."
The two have set a goal of making the A final at the world champs.
"We think that's a realistic goal, but also something that we'd be proud of," Bond said.
Ling felt it would also be a good stepping stone to keep their places for the next few years, with the 2016 Olympics their long-term target.
"I guess it's in the back of your mind, but it's quite far in the back of your mind," Bond said of the chance to compete in Rio de Janeiro.
"If we can perform well and achieve our goals this year, we feel we might get first dibs, I guess, to stake our claim."
Alistair is the younger brother of Olympic champion and multi-world champion Hamish Bond, but the siblings like to avoid excess rowing chat.
"I used to flat with him a couple of years ago, but we try not to talk too much about it," he said.
"I think he appreciates that we've gone about getting to our spots in different ways. He doesn't impose anything, but if I've got a question he's always happy to answer it as honestly as he can and help us out as much as he can."
He's also aware his elevation to the senior New Zealand team might raise some tough expectations on his performance.
"People might look at it like that, but I can't concern myself with that.
"He's such a phenomenal athlete that to compare myself and have expectations like his, it's probably a bit unreasonable.
"We're different boat classes, so it's not a direct comparison. I just try to do the best that I can."
- Waikato Times
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