Tonks' shift to women's rowing a logical step

IAN ANDERSON
Last updated 13:20 17/02/2013
Dick Tonks
Photosport
SHIFTING FOCUS: Dick Tonks will give up his role as head coach at Rowing NZ to focus on the women's programme for Rio.

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Rowing New Zealand boss Simon Peterson said the sideways shift for coach Dick Tonks was "a natural evolution".

Tonks has opted to oversee the organisation's women's programme instead of continuing as head coach as RNZ aims to enter a boat in every category for the 2016 Olympics at Rio de Janeiro.

Calvin Ferguson, who coached crews to gold and bronze at the London Olympics, will run the men's sculling programme while RNZ are close to appointing a new coach for the men's sweep oar programme that will involve London gold medallists Hamish Bond and Eric Murray.

Chief executive Peterson said the move came at Tonks' prompting.

"It was actually something that Dick came to us with as an idea for the next four-year programme through to the Olympics and we're delighted to do that," Peterson said.

"Obviously the women's programme is an exciting area for him to work with and I think we'll be all the better for it."

Peterson said the success at the London Olympics - where New Zealand boats won three gold and two bronze - and the bold aims for 2016 meant a change was a necessity.

"The programme for the last four years needed change for the next four years. The success of the programme's he's helped build has required a different structure.

"Having 11 crews at London, two others close to qualifying and having four boats of his own just wasn't feasible and with a growing programme as well. It's just a natural evolution of a successful programme."

Peterson said an announcement of the new men's sweep coach is likely before the end of the month, with applicants from overseas and within New Zealand.

It's understood former Canada head coach Mike Spracklen, who coached their men's eight to gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, is a possible contender.

Tonks, 61, coached single sculler Mahe Drysdale and men's pair Hamish Bond and Eric Murray to gold in London to increase his Olympic gold tally to five, having previously overseen successes by Rob Waddell at Sydney 2000 and Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell at Athens 2004 and Beijing four years later. On Thursday, he collected his fourth Coach of the Year title at the Halberg Awards.

Peterson said the three head coaches will work directly with high performance manager Alan Cotter.

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