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​Rowing legend Hamish Bond announces his retirement

  • 27 Jan 22

Rowing legend Hamish Bond (Olympian #1002) has today (January 27th) announced his retirement from the sport.

The Three-time Olympic champion leaves rowing as one of New Zealand’s most decorated athletes and Olympians, having won gold in rowing coxless pair with crewmate Eric Murray at both the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games, before leading the men’s eight crew to gold at Tokyo 2020.

He is the first male New Zealander to win three successive Olympic gold medals. Bond is also an eight-time world champion.

The 35-year-old says he’s known for a while that it was the right time for him to hang up the oars.

“It does feel strange saying that I’m retiring but I feel very fortunate to be walking away while at the top of the sport,” said Bond.

“Rowing for the bulk of my career has defined me as a person, I now have my family and other priorities and it feels like the right move to make.”

Bond says he never could have imagined what would follow when he began rowing as a 13-year-old at Otago Boys High School.

“I’ve been incredibly privileged to have gone on this journey and my career has far exceeded anything I dared to dream when I was starting out. I never anticipated having the success that followed.”

“The obvious pinnacles for me were winning in London, that first Olympic gold medal, and then winning gold with the eight in Tokyo, they’re phenomenal memories.”

Bond says he considered throwing in the towel before the Tokyo Olympic Games. He credits his wife Lizzie with keeping him in the sport.

“The last few years has been challenging for everyone, not just athletes, and there were times when I seriously considered calling it a day. It was taking more and more mental discipline to keep going and I could feel my hunger to punish myself in training waning. It was Lizzie who gave me a kick and said “no, you’re not ending things like this” and I really needed that to keep going and finish my sporting career in the right way.”

He’s now looking forward to spending more time at home.

“My main focus is family and being a parent for the next while and just working out my next step. I’m just going to take my time and enjoy the summer with my family.”

NZOC CEO Kereyn Smith paid tribute to Bond.

“We’ve been incredibly privileged to have worked with Hamish for almost a decade and a half,” said Smith.

“Hamish has been a leader on and off the water. He’s been an inspiration to young athletes all around the country and he’s embodied the values of the New Zealand Team.

“His drive and determination have been second to none. Hamish is a true Olympic great and his legacy and place in New Zealand’s sporting history is well and truly entrenched. We wish him all the best for his next chapter.”

Bond grew up in Dunedin and moved to Cambridge aged 20 to pursue rowing fulltime.

His first Olympic Games was Beijing 2008 where he competed in the coxless four, placing 7th. The following year he teamed up with Murray in the pair and the two immediately gelled winning gold at the the 2009 Rowing World Champs.

The pair then embarked on an unprecedented 69-race winning streak, never losing a race together. The streak included two Olympic Gold medals (2012 and 2016) and a further seven World Championships titles.

Their training workload was huge, with Bond and Murray doing enough so that even on a ‘bad’ day they could still win an Olympic title. This helped them set the World Best Time in the pair during the heats at the London Olympics. They also set the World Best Time in the men’s coxed pair after deciding to ‘spice up’ their training and racing by entering two events at the 2014 World Rowing Championships. They raced in the pair and coxed pair, winning both. Both of their World Best times still stand today.

The pair won New Zealand’s supreme Halberg award on two occasions and were named the Halberg decade champions in 2021. They were appointed to the New Zealand Order of Merit for their services to rowing in 2013. Their successes are also celebrated beyond New Zealand, where they were awarded rowing’s most prestigious international award, the Thomas Keller Medal.

Following the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Bond took a break from rowing to concentrate on cycling, winning Commonwealth Games bronze in the time trial at the Gold Coast 2018 Games.

On his return to rowing Bond moved to the men's eight. The crew missed out on initial qualification for Tokyo, placing sixth in the final at the 2019 World Championships. The result forced the eight to compete in Lucerne, Switzerland at the last chance regatta in May 2021. There, they placed first, to book their Olympic berth.

Competing in Tokyo the New Zealanders finished second in their heat and were forced to race in the repechage round which they won. In the final, New Zealand edged into the lead at the halfway point, as Britain and Germany continued to apply pressure. At this point, the three boats were separated by less than a second. As the crews entered the final 500m, the race was set up for a thrilling finish, with New Zealand pushing forwards to claim the gold medal in a time of 5:24.64.

It was the first time the New Zealand men’s eight had won an Olympic medal since the gold medal winning crew of 1972. Bond was the key ingredient to the boat’s success, helping to recruit the right athletes for the crew and providing leadership to the other athletes.

Bond was named Te Pou Hapai Tane (male flagbearer) for the New Zealand Team for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, however a last-minute schedule change saw him make the difficult choice to step down in order to prepare his team for competition.

Bond is now based in Mount Maunganui. He and his wife Lizzie are proud parents of Finlay, Imogen and Phoebe. He has a Bachelor of Business Studies (Finance) and a Graduate Diploma in Personal Financial Planning.

Article shared from olympic.org.nz