Twaddle, team-mate to meet just before race

TONY SMITH
Last updated 05:00 07/02/2013

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Former world champion rower Nathan Twaddle will not meet one of his Coast to Coast team-mates until they catch up in Kumara today.

Twaddle, the 2008 Beijing Olympic coxless pair bronze medallist, was persuaded to tackle the 243-kilometre multisport race by nine-times champion Steve Gurney.

Gurney put him in touch with three-times women's race winner Emily Miazga, a Canadian based at Granity on the West Coast.

"We've talked a few times on the phone . . . Emily's been great, she's jacked us up with some race uniforms . . . but we won't meet till we get down there [to Kumara]," Twaddle said from his Cambridge base. "I've never been to the West Coast before, I'm embarrassed to say, so I'll get to go over there for at least a day beforehand."

Twaddle and Miazga are competing in the new three-person mixed teams race - one of race organiser Robin Judkins' innovations this year - with another former New Zealand rowing representative, Sam Earl, a 33-year-old agribusiness manager from Cromwell.

Earl's wife Georgina (nee Evers-Swindell) was a two-time Olympic double sculls champion, and his father, Athol Earl, was in the 1972 Munich Olympic Games gold medal-winning New Zealand rowing eight.

Twaddle, 36, retired two years ago and now works for High Performance Sport New Zealand in a career development role.

He has "found it really invigorating" dabbling in recreational sport, and quipped it helped stave off the "post-retirement [weight] creep rowers are quite notorious for" as they adjust their eating habits from the high-calorie intake required to keep up intensive training.

Twaddle initially told Gurney that he'd like to try a couple of smaller events first before tackling the Coast to Coast "pinnacle".

"Steve just said ‘you're nuts, you need to go and do it now'."

Twaddle will quite literally be a rower without a paddle. He will "get to do the glory" stages - the two cycling legs from the start at Kumara Beach and 70km across the Canterbury Plains from the Waimakariri Gorge bridge to the Sumner finish line.

He would like to do it as an individual one day, but does not envy former rowing team-mates Mahe Drysdale and Joseph Sullivan's instant immersion in the Longest Day one-day race. "I think it's better for me to do it in a team first."

Twaddle said Drysdale may have joked about having "an Olympic level of unfitness", but he found out on a recent training ride with the London Games gold medallist that there was a big difference in the fitness of a London Olympian and someone "out of the [rowing] game for a couple of years".

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Sullivan is still training for next weekend's national rowing championships and Twaddle said it was "really good to see the sport has given these guys a chance to do something like the Coast to Coast".

- © Fairfax NZ News

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