Rowing pair plan on another four peerless years

IAN ANDERSON
Last updated 05:00 19/02/2013

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US presidents. George Gregan. Now Eric Murray wants to lay claim to the "four more years" mantra.

Murray, who will represent the Waikato Regional Performance Centre when the national rowing champs start at Lake Ruataniwha today, said he and crew-mate Hamish Bond are determined to extend their four-year unbeaten record through to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

The Kiwi men's pair won gold in London last year, culminating a four-year reign which saw them win every race they entered since teaming up in the pair at the start of 2009. And rather than that being seen as a possible millstone around their neck as they eye defending their title in Rio, Murray said it was their goal again.

"We've always said if we go through this cycle we'd love to go and do it unbeaten again."

That may mean the pair don't contest the opening World Cup regatta of the season in Sydney next month if they're not in prime racing shape.

"There's no point in being half-prepared for something," Murray said.

"If we don't feel we're fit enough and fast enough going into that, then we might just forgo that one and head into the European season in June.

"We're in rowing to win it and if we know we're going to go out there and just not be up to our standard, what's the point in being out there?

"There's probably going to be someone out there who wants to take our scalp.

"We've done it for four years and obviously there'll be some good crews out there. There might be a crew out their like Hamish and I were four years ago with something to prove that are going to come out all guns blazing, so we've got to be prepared for that and if we're not prepared then that inevitably could happen."

Being gold-medallists and standard bearers for quality performances may give the duo some pull with the decision-makers, but Murray said they still don't know if their thoughts will equal those of the Rowing NZ selection panel at the upcoming trials.

"We've voiced it, but we haven't really had a concrete answer."

Murray will contest the four and the eight with Waikato RPC at the nationals as he and Bond - part of the Southern RPC set-up -return to racing after a long break following the London regatta.

"The original plan really was ideally not to be here and just continue training, but it's always good to be here and be involved," said Murray, who will continue to train during the week.

The pair are awaiting news on who their new coach will be for the next four years, after previous head coach Dick Tonks stepped aside to assume control of New Zealand's women's programme. A new men's sweep oar coach is expected to be named by the end of the month.

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Murray said their training partners may be a bigger factor than a new coach in their continued success.

"I'm not too worried - we just want to have a good training partner.

"We're pretty confident in our capabilities so if we can have someone guiding us along the way, we just have to figure out who that'll be.

"Over the last four years we've always had the women's quad with us, and they've been bloody valuable to our progression.

"Also racing against the lightweight men's double, especially in the inter-crew racing we do at Lake Karapiro, that's been pivotal as well.

"With Dick having the women's programme, if we're able to work in with them at some stages or work with the men's lightweight double on a day-to-day basis might be really good."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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