Hamish Bond hints at return for golden pair
The pair of Hamish Bond and Eric Murray look set to resume their all-conquering partnership in the New Year.
While Murray is preparing for a Fight for Life celebrity boxing bout against Warriors winger Manu Vatuvei, Bond has stayed out of the spotlight since their dominant London Olympic victory.
However, the 26-year-old is planning to be back on the water at Lake Karapiro next month, and likely in combination again with Murray as they ponder extending their unbeaten streak and another Olympic campaign.
It would be the fourth Olympics for the 30-year-old Murray and the third for Bond.
The duo were part of the New Zealand men's four that missed the A final at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and then joined forces in the pair and have been unbeaten since 2009, culminating in their victory in London.
While Bond has yet to make a final decision on his future, he's leaning towards continuing a combination that has not only held off all challengers over the past three seasons, but also frightened off their toughest rivals.
The Great Britain pair of Pete Reed and Andrew Triggs Hodge, who finished second behind the Kiwis at the 2009, 2010 and 2011 world champs, switched to a four at the start of 2012 and also finished the season with Olympic gold.
"I'm looking at getting back in around New Year some time," Bond said.
"I haven't made concrete plans, but it's likely Eric and I will be in the pair - if his head is still attached to his shoulders.
"I'll probably continue in some capacity but I haven't worked out the nuts and bolts yet."
Bond said while he's enjoyed his time off the water since the Olympics - filled with school visits, sponsors duties, building and landscaping his house and starting a part-time job with Forsyth Barr - he has felt the itch to return.
"I haven't rowed at all, but I've been keeping fit, cycling.
"I don't think I'm in too bad shape but it's all relative - I'm not going to beat the Hamish Bond from four months ago.
"At times I've sort of missed the simplicity of training - where you put yourself first, you train in the morning, train in the afternoon, eat, and go to bed."
But like a number of fellow New Zealand Olympic medal winners, Bond has had a tough time deciding what comes next.
"I don't think I'll really know until I get back in the boat. We may need a couple of workshops involving other people to nut out a bit of a plan."
Bond also wants to ensure a return to action is for the right reasons.
"We have to work out why we are coming back, what are our motivating factors.
"If you're just doing it because you feel you should be back there then it's not enough. We've obviously set a precedent of what we want to achieve."
Bond, Murray and gold-medal winning single sculler Mahe Drysdale, who has yet to decide his future, have all indicated some interest in Rowing New Zealand's desire to form a competitive men's eight to aim towards the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
But Bond is wary that to pursue that avenue would provide no guarantee of matching their spectacular success of recent years.
"I'll listen to what they [Rowing New Zealand] have got to say.
"I think it will be difficult - you need a huge amount of depth. I would love to see it - it'd be great given New Zealand's big history with an eight, and it's country v country.
"There's not a lot of room for an individual in an eight, whereas even with our pair it's still Hamish and Eric."
Ian Anderson looks at what the future may hold for Rowing New Zealand’s other medal winners in London.
Rowing New Zealand's biggest Christmas present would come in the returning 1.98m frame of the Olympic men's single sculls gold medallist.
The 34-year-old has given himself until then to decide if he wants to continue in the sport, but will contest the Billy Webb Challenge single sculls race this weekend in Whanganui.
Drysdale could take a year out and still return with the ambition to defend his title in Rio in four years time, he may still be pondering a switch to a crew boat, head back to Karapiro in January or retire after the glory of gold in London, along with bronze in Beijing and five world championship crowns.
The 30-year-old has indicated he's looking at a fourth Olympic Games. Murray has been training for his Fight for Life boxing bout against Manu Vatuvei but will also compete in the Billy Webb Challenge and should be back on the water regularly at Lake Karapiro early next month.
One of the few London Olympic medalists to already be back in fulltime training with Rowing NZ's elite summer squad.
Cohen has been to the past two Games, just missing a medal in 2008 with Rob Waddell, but is still only 26.
He and crewmate Joseph Sullivan have been the best men's double scullers in the world for the past three years and must fancy their chances of further glory.
The 25-year-old has been enjoying the limelight surrounding the spectacular surge he and Cohen displayed to win gold at Eton Dorney.
But the former dual world under-23 champion is back cross-training, doing some rowing and should be full-time again by Christmas.
Some have touted him as a possible single sculling option should Drysdale retire but the 1.83m Sullivan has stated his preference to be part of a crew.
Wanted - a new crewmate for the women's pairs Olympic bronze medallist.
Scown, who recently returned from volunteer work with Haigh in Kenya, is training during the week in Auckland with Olympic women's single sculls finalist Emma Twigg and at Lake Karapiro at weekends.
The 29-year-old is expected to be part of the NZ team to contest the opening World Cup regatta in Sydney in March and Rowing NZ has plenty of promising young women hoping to partner her.
The bronze medalist in the lightweight double sculls is swapping one Cambridge for another.
Uru is poised to leave the water of Lake Karapiro for the halls of academy at Cambridge University in the UK, having been offered a scholarship to study for his MBA.
However, the 27-year-old definitely hasn't ruled out a return to New Zealand and a resumption of his partnership with Peter Taylor with an eye on competing at Rio.
Is back training with the summer squad but will be looking for a new partner in the lightweight double with Uru's impending departure.
Options include James Lassche, Curtis Rapley and Armin Svoboda, should the RNZ selection panel want to keep a combination going.
Another possibility is a season in his own boat. Former three-times world champ Duncan Grant wasn't wanted in the summer squad and 28-year-old Taylor has previously shown at national regattas that he's a top class single sculler.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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