Eric Murray commits to Rio medal defence

Last updated 05:00 09/10/2012
Michael Bradley/ FAIRFAX NZ

GOLDEN ROWERS: Gold Medal winning Rower's Eric Murray, Mahe Drysdale, Joseph Sullivan and Hamish Bond with his new Audi in Auckland.

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Eric Murray is the first of New Zealand's Olympic gold medal rowers to confirm he's going through to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

And the rest would not appear to be far from joining him.

Murray and his fellow rowing gold medallists from the London Games - minus double sculler Nathan Cohen who's on holiday in Africa - were presented with sparkling new Audi Q5s at a function in Auckland last night.

The golden boys - Murray and his perfect pair partner Hamish Bond, single sculler Mahe Drysdale and the double of Cohen and Joseph Sullivan - get to keep the luxury vehicles that retail for around $95,000 for the next two years.

But that term doubles if they commit to defending their titles in Rio de Janeiro.

Murray, the moustachioed bowman in the pair that never lost a race through the Olympic cycle, confirmed to Fairfax Media last night he would be holding on to his Audi for the full term.

"Four years mate, go on," he said, officially becoming the first of rowing's Olympic champions to go on the record with his re-commitment.

"Hey, rowing's easy when you're doing well. When you're getting success the day-to-day grind of it all is worth it.

"In my mind I've made the call. I guess it's just a matter of how we do it. Do we stay in the pair? Do we try something else? That's what it's about now."

Murray, who will be 34 in Rio, confirmed the main decision for he and Bond was around whether they had the appetite to try to continue their dominance in the coxless pair, or whether a change might be the best approach.

He recalled Bond contacting him after Beijing about them forming a pair and his belief they had such great potential. It was a conversation that changed his mindset after he had returned from the Games on a "downer" and ready to take a year off.

"Should we get into a four? Should we do an eight? Should we part ways, and do two different boats," pondered Murray last night.

"They're the decisions you've got to make. But it's a lot easier and more flexible in a small boat, and I liked doing it in that respect with having a young son."

Bond was less emphatic but all but confirmed he too would be around for another crack at the Olympics.

"We've had the odd discussion about it, but exactly how it shakes down and what exactly we do we're not quite sure there," said Bond last night.

"I think over the next month or so we'll sort out what we want to do, but come the new year if you drive past Karapiro you'll probably see a whole set of Audis there."

Was that a yes?

"I've got nothing else planned, put it that way," said the super stroke of this perfect pair. "I will be back in a boat. I love rowing, we've got great support, great sponsors, and it makes it a very easy decision to stay in the sport."

Drysdale, at 32, has a slightly more complicated call, but even he confirmed last night he was likely to go through to Rio.

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"I'm still tossing it up," said Drysdale who said he hoped to decide by year-end. "It's really trying to convince myself if I'm going to continue that I can do it for the next four years. It's a big commitment.

"No 1 it's do I have the passion to continue and No 2 is it the single or do I need another challenge? That's really the biggest thing - can I find the challenge in the single? If it is then all good I'll stay in the single. But otherwise maybe there's another option."

Pressed, though, Drysdale gave a pretty firm nod towards continuing his remarkable career.

"I'm tempted," he said. "I'm leaning towards continuing and it's just trying to make sure it's what I want to do and mentally and physically I can handle it. I don't want to be slipping back through the field and that's why it is such a big decision."

Sullivan, at 25, has a more straightforward choice mainly influence by whether Cohen wants to continue their partnership in the double.

"I'm pretty keen to go for the next four years," said Picton's finest, over the moon at the car he was driving away in. "Nathan and I haven't talked about it yet, but I guess it will come up when he returns. If he decides to come back that will be awesome, but if he doesn't there will be other options."

- Fairfax Media


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