New Zealand elite rowing squad gets bigger
Rowing New Zealand will assemble the biggest summer squad in its history as they widen their net for potential Olympic glory in Rio.
More than 50 rowers are poised to make up the elite training squad this season, with the organisation looking long-term towards the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and the 2020 event.
While Rowing NZ's medallists and Olympic finalists from London have been given an extended break, most of those 12 are expected to return to the water this summer to add to the squad of 41 named this week.
High-performance manager Alan Cotter said the large contingent was designed with the future in mind, as Rowing NZ have indicated they wish to be represented in Rio by boats in all 14 Olympic classes.
"Our aim is to have 14 boats in Rio and that just doesn't happen by chance," Cotter said. "A lot of development has to happen, both here and in our RPCs [regional performance centres]."
Rowing NZ had impressive results at world under-23 and junior level this year and Cotter said many of those rowers impressed at the trials. "I'm really happy with the development of our younger athletes. Now we're wanting to get them to elite level for 2016, and for 2020 also.
"If we're not developing our younger talent our top-end performance will fall away."
Mahe Drysdale, Hamish Bond, Eric Murray, Nathan Cohen, Joseph Sullivan, Juliette Haigh, Rebecca Scown, Peter Taylor, Storm Uru, Emma Twigg, Fi Paterson and Anna Reymer are still in discussions with Rowing NZ over their return dates but Cotter is optimistic of getting most, if not all, back on the water by the start of next year.
"All of them are doing some sort of activity, like cycling or triathlon. Some will be back on November 1, others by December 1.
"It's a commitment for the next four years, so we don't want to rush them into it. We want them to come back when they're in the right frame of mind," Cotter said.
Newcomers to the summer squad include Hayden Cohen, younger brother of Nathan and gold-medal winner in the double sculls at this year's under-23 world champs, along with Waikato rowers Shaun Kirkham and Georgia Perry.
Former triple world champion men's lightweight single sculler Duncan Grant wasn't named, while some of last year's men's sweep oar programme, including Tyson Williams, David Eade, Hamish Burson, Ian Seymour, and Sean O'Neill don't feature.
AT A GLANCE
New Zealand summer squad for 2012-2013
Men: Adam Tripp, Alex Kennedy, Alistair Bond, Armin Svoboda, Ben Hammond, Bobby Kells, Chris Harris, Curtis Rapley, Fergus Fauvel, Finn Howard, Giacomo Thomas, Hayden Cohen, Jade Uru, James Lassche, Jeff Francis, Joe Wright, Karl Manson, Michael Arms, Nathan Flannery, Richard Harrison, Robbie Manson, Shaun Kirkham, Steve Cottle, Tobias Wehr-Candler.
Women: Eve Macfarlane, Fiona Bourke, Genevieve Armstrong, Genevieve Behrent, Georgia Hammond, Georgia Perry, Grace Prendergast, Julia Edward, Kayla Pratt, Kelsey Bevan, Linda Matthews, Louise Ayling, Louise Trappitt, Lucy Spoors, Lucy Strack, Sarah Gray, Sophie Mackenzie, Zoe Stevenson.