4 Mar 2016

Biggest ever Olympic rowing team named

3:30 pm on 4 March 2016

The largest ever New Zealand Rowing team for an Olympics has been named for this year's Rio Games.

Mahe Drysdale wins the single scull at the London Olympics.

Mahe Drysdale wins the single scull at the London Olympics. Photo: Photosport

A squad of 31 has been selected in nine boats with London Olympic gold medallists Mahé Drysdale, Hamish Bond and Eric Murray heading the squad.

For the first time ever New Zealand will have a women's eight and a men's lightweight four competing at an Olympics.

An additional team of 15 athletes made up of five boats has also been named to compete at the Final Qualification regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland in May.

With seven 2015 world championship medals in Olympic events, the New Zealand Olympic Rowing team is positioned strongly in the build-up to the Olympic Games.

Rowing New Zealand High Performance Director Alan Cotter said of the trial process, "All of the athletes selected have worked enormously hard to get to this point, gone through a rigorous trialling process and have met the high standard needed to be chosen for any New Zealand rowing crew."

Cotter acknowledged the promising results in 2015, "Rowing New Zealand crews had a great year in 2015, winning medals in seven Olympic boat classes and finishing second on the medal table behind Great Britain.

"The strong showing from the men's and women's eights at the World Championships in 2015 to qualify for the Rio Olympic Games demonstrates the depth of talent in our programme. With six months to go we remain confident that we will meet our high performance target to win five medals at the Rio Olympic Games."

Headlining the New Zealand rowing team are 2012 London Olympic Gold medallists Mahe Drysdale, Hamish Bond and Eric Murray.

Hamish Bond and Eric Murray celebrate their gold medal win at the London Olympics.

Hamish Bond and Eric Murray celebrate their gold medal win at the London Olympics. Photo: Photosport

Bond and Murray remain an unrivalled pairing with six world championship titles to their names and are contesting their third and fourth Olympic Games respectively.

Two-time Olympic medallist and five time world champion Mahé Drysdale is looking to defend his London Olympic gold medal in the men's single scull at his fourth Olympic Games.

Two-time world champion's in the women's lightweight double scull Julia Edward and Sophie MacKenzie are also confirmed, as are the world champion double scull duo of Zoe Stevenson and Eve Macfarlane.

World bronze medallists Robbie Manson and Chris Harris will compete in the men's double scull, with Rio the second Olympic Games for both.

There is one change in the men's lightweight four from 2015 with Peter Taylor rejoining the crew that finished fourth at the World Championships last year.

The men's and women's eights from 2015 will remain unchanged in their combinations with London Olympic bronze medallist Rebecca Scown teaming up with Genevieve Behrent to also contest the women's coxless pair in Rio.

This is the first time in New Zealand Rowing Olympic history athletes have contested more than one event.

The New Zealand women's eight made history when they won a silver medal at the World Championships in 2015.

It was the first time a New Zealand women's eight had stood on the dais at a World Championships and the first time they have gained qualification for the Olympic games.

The men's lightweight four also made history, qualifying for the event for the first time ever.

The last time a New Zealand men's eight raced at the Olympic Games was in 1984.

New Zealand is set to send five crews to the Final Qualification regatta in May in Lucerne, Switzerland. The five boats will include the men's and women's quadruple scull, men's coxless four, men's lightweight double scull and women's single scull.

The 2014 World Champion, Emma Twigg will head the team attending the Final Qualification regatta in Lucerne as she strives to secure her place in the single scull in Rio.

There has been one change to the 2015 men's quadruple scull with Nathan Flannery joining the crew. There has also been a change in the women's quadruple scull with young sculler Brooke Donoghue making the crew and her first elite team.

The men's lightweight double will be made up of Adam Ling and Toby Cunliffe-Steele. Anthony Allen returns from the 2015 men's coxless four and will be joined by Patrick McInnes, Drikus Conradie and Axel Dickinson in the four.

With five boats set to compete at the regatta in Lucerne the New Zealand Olympic Rowing team has the potential to become even larger with up to 14 boats. At the London Olympic Games New Zealand fielded a rowing team of 26 athletes across eleven boat classes.

Rowing first appeared on the Olympic programme at the first Olympic Games held in 1900 and, since then, New Zealand has won a total of 21 Olympic medals in the sport.

The first New Zealand Rowing medal was a bronze won at the 1920 Antwerp Olympic Games by Darcey Hadfield. Forty two years later New Zealand won its first gold medal in the sport in the men's coxed fours at the Mexico Olympic Games in 1968.

NZ Rowing team for Rio Olympics.

Women's Double Scull

Zoe Stevenson

Eve Macfarlane

Dick Tonks - Coach

Lightweight Women's Double Scull

Julia Edward

Sophie Mackenzie

Gary Hay - Coach

Women's Coxless Pair

Rebecca Scown

Genevieve Behrent

Dave Thompson - Coach

Women's Eight

Rebecca Scown

Genevieve Behrent

Kerri Gowler

Grace Prendergast

Kelsey Bevan

Ruby Tew

Emma Dyke

Kayla Pratt

Francie Turner (cox)

Dave Thompson - Coach

Men's Single Scull

Mahe Drysdale

Dick Tonks - Coach

Men's Double Scull

Chris Harris

Robbie Manson

Calvin Ferguson - Coach

Men's Coxless Pair

Hamish Bond

Eric Murray

Noel Donaldson - Coach

Lightweight Men's Coxless Four

James Hunter

Alistair Bond

Peter Taylor

James Lassche

Gary Hay - Coach

Men's Eight

Stephen Jones

Brook Robertson

Alex Kennedy

Joe Wright

Isaac Grainger

Shaun Kirkham

Michael Brake

Tom Murray

Caleb Shepherd (cox)

Noel Donaldson - Coach

New Zealand Rowing Team to attend Olympic Qualification Regatta, Lucerne

Women's Single Scull

Emma Twigg

Gary Hay - Coach

Women's Quad

Brooke Donoghue

Georgia Perry

Lucy Spoors

Sarah Gray

James Coote - Coach

Lightweight Men's Double Scull

Toby Cunliffe-Steel

Adam Ling

Calvin Ferguson - Coach

Men's Quad

Jade Uru

Nathan Flannery

George Bridgewater

John Storey

Mike Rodger - Coach

Men's Coxless Four

Drikus Conradie

Axel Dickinson

Patrick McInnes

Anthony Allen

Gary Roberts - Coach

Reserves

Holly Greenslade

Ashlee Rowe

Olivia Loe

Zoe McBride

Finn Howard

Bobby Kells

Curtis Rapley

Giacomo Thomas

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