2 Mar 2012

Largest ever rowing squad named

12:43 pm on 2 March 2012

The largest ever New Zealand rowing squad will contest the London Olympics this year.

39 athletes have been named in the eleven pre-qualified boats, while a men's eight and men's lightweight four will contest the final Olympic qualifying regatta in Lucerne in May.

Heading the team is five times world champion in the single scull, Mahé Drysdale.

The three-time men's pair world champions Hamish Bond and Eric Murray are also confirmed, as are two-time world champions in the women's pairs Juliette Haigh and Rebecca Scown and two-time world men's double sculls champions Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan.

2009 world champions Storm Uru and Peter Taylor will compete in the men's lightweight double scull, taking the total number of current and former elite level world champions in the New Zealand Olympic rowing team to nine.

Emma Twigg - world silver medallist in 2010 and bronze medallist in 2011 - is selected for the women's single scull, while Fi Paterson and Anna Reymer, bronze medallists in 2011, will remain in the promising women's heavyweight double scull, the boat in which New Zealand secured its Olympic Gold in Beijing four years ago with the Evers-Swindell twins.

There is a change in the women's lightweight double scull from the 2011 crew which qualified for London. Julia Edward replaces Lucy Strack and will partner Louise Ayling.

The women's quad remains in the bronze medal winning combination of 2011 with Eve Macfarlane, Fiona Bourke, Louise Trappitt and Sarah Gray.

There are new line ups for the two other qualified boats - the men's four and the men's quad. The new-look men's four will be coached by Dave Thompson and will be made up of Sean O'Neill, Chris Harris, Jade Uru and Tyson Williams. The men's quadruple scull will be crewed by Robbie Manson, Matthew Trott, John Storey and new recruit Michael Arms. Mike Rodger will continue to coach this boat.

In the two boats named to try and qualify at Lucerne in May, the lightweight four will be crewed by three time world lightweight sculling champion Duncan Grant, double Under 23 world champion Graham Oberlin-Brown, world silver medallist James Lassche and Curtis Rapley.

Waikato coach Ian Wright will take charge of the men's eight which will also try and qualify at Lucerne.

Rowing has won 16 Olympic medals since Darcy Hadfield took bronze at the Antwerp Olympic Games in 1920 and sits equal with Sailing as New Zealand's second-most medalled sport behind Athletics (20 medals).