Just don't say gold

Eric Murray is part of a crew that has been billed as a dead cert for a gold medal at the London Olympics.
Eric Murray is part of a crew that has been billed as a dead cert for a gold medal at the London Olympics.

He is part of a crew that has been billed as a dead cert for a gold medal at the London Olympics but ask his parents and they will tell you that when he started he was useless.

Eric Murray and his rowing partner Hamish Bond have yet to lose a race as a pair in their three years together and that puts them in a commanding position over the rest of the field going to London.

Although heavy favourites Bombay's famous rower has forbidden the word "gold" knowing expectations on the pair are high.

His parents Peter and Annette, now living in Pukekohe, are also feeling the pressure their son is under though they admit there is nothing they can do about it.

"He [Eric] has banned the whole coming first thing from conversation, people assume that they are going to win but he knows that anything can happen," Peter said.

"He has still got to do the job and said he doesn't like people making assumptions; that it's a forgone conclusion."

The job started for Eric years ago while living in Bombay and a student at Pukekohe High School.

This stage of his sporting career played a vital role in getting him to the international position he now holds.

Eric told the Franklin County News that his time in Pukekohe moulded him into the athlete he is today.

"I've seen with coming from a smaller school and smaller club situations that your ability to be able to be independent develops a lot quicker than from larger schools and programmes I have seen people come from," Eric said.

"You have to do it yourself, so when you leave the comfort of home or school, then it's pretty easy for you."

His parents admit that the comfort of home really was comfortable for Eric and they were responsible for guiding him in any, and every, direction he wished to go.

Annette said that he was always a sporty child and very competitive at whatever he was doing.

As is common with a lot of New Zealand sports people, rugby was the initial sport and rowing only came about as a device used to build strength for rugby.

"He tried every sport available. You name it, he tried it and as his parents we took him to everything," Annette said.

Those sports included hockey through school and swimming for which Peter said he took him to Papakura to train, at times twice a day, until Eric took up rowing at Mercer Rowing Club.

"I think of the group Eric was first with and he was the only one who went back the next year, they were useless but we supported them anyway," Peter said.

That support followed Eric through his years at Pukekohe High School and during his time at the Mercer Rowing Club.

Peter and Annette believe that as a parent, if your kid wants to get involved in something then you had better get involved as well.

They have been lucky because their support has seen their son become a world champion.

"Until he went to the Athens Olympics we had to pay for all of his rowing," Annette said.

"He could not work full time so we even had to pay him wages as well.

"We used to say that we had spent $27,000 for overseas travel yet never got out of the airport."

Eric is thankful for the help he received as a kid and knows that without the help from his parents, the Mercer Rowing Club and Franklin people he never would have made it.

"Until you have independence, a driver's licence and are earning your own money, parents are the ones who control the purse strings," Eric said.

"In the first few years they are the ones who have to front up with trips away so it can be a financial strain on any family.

"It's in my interest to make sure that I not only do everything I possibly can for myself but also for my supporters."

Coming from Bombay, Eric said he had a great deal of community support. People often donated money to fund his trips to Europe to compete.

Two of his biggest supporters this year will no doubt be his parents who flew to London on the weekend.

They have been allocated tickets to the rowing and said they were preparing for the excitment of the pending finals.


Name: Eric Murray

Age: 30

Olympic Event: Rowing (men's pairs)

School: Bombay, Pukekohe High School Career


2009 World Rowing Champs Men's Pairs - Gold Medal

2010 World Rowing Champs Men's Pairs - Gold Medal

2011 World Rowing Champs Men's Pairs - Gold Medal

Previous Olympic Results:

2004 Athens - 5th (coxless four)

2008 Beijing - 7th (coxless four)

Did you know?

In December 2011, Eric set a new world record on the indoor rowing machine. On a Concept 2 Dynamic rowing machine he went 18,728m in one hour.

- Franklin County News

Franklin County News