Rowing champion pair set for a new challenge

Last updated 10:25 08/08/2014
Hamish Bond and Eric Murray
THAT'S GOLD: Champion Kiwi rowers Hamish Bond and Eric Murray are lining up a fresh challenge at the world championships in Amsterdam this month.

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Hamish Bond and Eric Murray will chase two golds at the upcoming world rowing championships.

The unbeaten New Zealand men's pair will also contest the coxed pair event in Amsterdam on August 24-31.

They will be joined in the coxed pair boat by coxswain Caleb Shepherd from the dual world under-23 champion Kiwi men's eight, in a radical move that could test the resolve of the current Olympic gold medallists in the straight pair.

Bond and Murray haven't been beaten at any level in Olympic, world championship and World Cup races as a straight pair since teaming up following the 2008 Olympics.

Murray said they were aware increasing their workload at the regatta could put their world record streak of 18 major titles in the straight pair in jeopardy, but were motivated by the challenge.

"There have been only a few people that have ever won both pairs at the same championships, so it's a challenge to try and achieve both." Murray said.

"We wouldn't be racing it if we didn't think we were capable of winning both.

"There are risks involved in racing both, but we are preparing ourselves for it so we will be able to handle the amount of racing and the intensity of doing it."

They will be aiming to win their heats in each event to avoid rowing extra racing - that could see them compete in a minimum of five races or a maximum of seven.

It's understood the last time a NZ men's coxed pair competed at a world champs was in 1994, when Rob Waddell and Ian Wright teamed up.

However, Murray doesn't expect they will regularly compete in the coxed pair, which is not an Olympic-class boat.

"I think this will be a one-off.

"It's about making this Olympic cycle enjoyable with challenges along the way. Last year was changing our programme, this year the coxed pair, next year it'll be more focused on Olympic qualifying."

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