Kiwi rowers rewarded for performances

SWEET RIDE: Mahe Drysdale in one of the Audi Q5s.
SWEET RIDE: Mahe Drysdale in one of the Audi Q5s.

For New Zealand rowing's golden boys the upshot of what they achieved on the waters of Eton Dorney has now taken a tangible form.

And the Kiwi sporting superstars are over the moon that they'll now be travelling on dry land in the same sort of style to which they have become used to moving through the water.

New Zealand's gold medal-winning rowers from the London Olympics - Murray and his perfect pair partner Hamish Bond, single sculler Mahe Drysdale and the double of Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan - were tonight presented with new Audi Q5s each at a function in Auckland.

All, except Cohen who is holidaying in Africa, got to drive away in their shiny silver vehicles and all did so with beaming smiles befitting the travel upgrade they'd just been handed.

The special deal to honour the feats of the mighty five was put together by rowing's main sponsor BankLink, in conjunction with the Giltrap Group. The rowers get to keep the high-end sports utility vehicles (they retail for around $95,000) for the next two years.

But the reward comes with an added incentive. If they commit to continuing through until the Rio Games in 2016, they get to keep the shiny new vehicles for the full four years.

Picton's Sullivan was like a kid in a candy shop as he checked out the luxury vehicle he'd now be heading back and forth to training on Karapiro in.

"BankLink and Giltrap have been amazing," said Sullivan. "It's a big step up for me from my $1200 Toyota Corolla. It's my first sponsored car and it's a pretty cool one to start with."

Single sculler extraordinaire Drysdale had previously driven an Audi as part of an existing sponsorship with BankLink but he was rapt to be getting a significant upgrade.

"It's great to be here and pick up this shiny new Audi, and I'm really looking forward to getting it home," he said at a special function at Auckland's Giltrap showrooms.

Perfect pair bowman Eric Murray described the vehicle as the "cherry on top" of the incredible success they've had over the last four years.

"It's something you don't go out to achieve while you're rowing, but for the sponsor off their own bat to say 'hey here's some cars for the next two or four years, depending on what you do', is absolutely fantastic.

"I'm just really grateful for what they're doing for us. It's going to turn a few heads with a fleet of these driving around in Cambridge."

Bond said this was an example of how well off rowing was compared to so many of its fellow Olympic sports.

"I can't think of another sport similar to ours that has such a great sponsor. For them to do this is outstanding reward for a lot of hard work. You don't do it for the perks, but this definitely makes life easy when you don't have to worry about transport for four years."

Banklink General Manager of Operations Richard Reese said the company wanted to do something to honour the feats of a special group of athletes.

"We believe it is important to formally recognise and reward their achievements at a personal level - and to hopefully provide an incentive for them to continue on to Rio 2016 and replicate their success."

Added Giltrap supremo Colin Giltrap: "The presentation of these Audi Q5s is an acknowledgement of the hard work and hours these rowers put into their sport every week. Our rowers have achieved some ofNew Zealand's greatest sporting successes in recent years and we're proud to show our support of these amazing athletes."

Fairfax Media