Humble Murray revels in quality of finalists

SURPRISED: Eric Murray didn't expect to win this year's Sportsman and Supreme awards at the Waikato Sports Awards.
SURPRISED: Eric Murray didn't expect to win this year's Sportsman and Supreme awards at the Waikato Sports Awards.

Every year Eric Murray expects his unbeaten run at the Waikato Sports Awards to end.

Despite his own consistent and dominant performances in the boat with rowing partner Hamish Bond, Murray was surprised to beat a stellar group of Waikato athletes to the Sportsman and Supreme awards on Thursday night.

He probably said the same thing last year.

''From my perspective, sitting there looking at the talent that is around, I sort of wonder how you judge one person from another,'' he said.

''To win it for the fifth time is pretty surreal. I guess it's just a product of what Hamish and I have been able to do over the past few years, which is just try and be the best that we can be.

''If we keep winning and keep setting the standard, and a judge decides that's worthy of an award saying we've done the best, so be it. It does make you proud.

''It's just fantastic to be among a group of fantastic sports people doing the region proud.''

There were moments during Thursday's awards night at Claudelands Arena when Murray was stunned by other athletes achievements.

One of those was cricketer Natalie Dodd, who had an incredible year playing for Northern Districts, averaging more than 150 runs with the bat.

Even that performance wasn't good enough to win, going down to World Cup winning New Zealand sevens player Honey Hireme.

''When you look at the nominees for it, and not even the finalists, but the nominees that could have been here, and you have Oceania gold medallists, and World Championship medallists, and they don't even make the cut,'' he said.

''There's so many people around doing fantastic things on the world stage, you feel sorry for the judges having to choose.

''It shows what the region is producing. We're producing great sportspeople and that's the best part about it.''

Murray and Bond are undefeated in 16 attempts as a pair, winning Olympic gold, four World Championship crowns, and 11 World Cup events since 2009.

Each day the team go out to be as good as they can be, and have even turned to training solo to add competitiveness to their training.

They hope that will push them on to greater things, and freshen up their training regime.

While the pair push each other hard, Murray said the other athletes based around Cambridge are also pushing them.

''When I came to Cambridge in 2001, there was only a handful of rowers there. Now you have all the rowers at Karapiro, the Avantidrome will have all the cyclists and triathletes.

''You could have Olympic medals coming out our ears in Cambridge. All of a sudden you've got this bumper crop of people around the place. It's just fantastic.''

Keeping up his excellence isn't easy, and Murray was back out on the water at 7.30am yesterday, pushing himself more and more each day.

''People ask if we can get faster, and we don't know, but you have to try. We try to get better every time we go out there.''

If the Kiwi pair keep up these standards heading towards the 2016 Rio Olympics, it's hard to imagine that Supreme trophy heading anywhere other than Murray's house.