Bond crosses the road and comes back to rowing
World and Olympic Champion rower Hamish Bond of New Zealand has announced that he is returning to rowing and had declared that he wants to be part of the New Zealand men’s eight with his sights set on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
“I came to a crossroads,” Bond said in an interview with Radio New Zealand. “Tokyo may be my last opportunity at the Olympics and I had to decide, what do I want to have a go at the most. The men’s eight is the Blue Ribband event and it’s something I’ve always wanted to try.
“I bring a relentless drive to anything I’m doing. I hope that will rub off on the eight.”
Bond, along with men’s pair partner Eric Murray, achieved an unbeaten winning streak of 69 races. This saw the duo earn two Olympic gold medals and seven World Championship titles including one in the men’s coxed pair. They also set two World Best Times that still stand today.
After winning Olympic gold at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Bond stepped out of the boat and onto the bike. In these last two years as a cyclist Bond says he picked up an oar only once (for a corporate event). He never used the indoor rower.
While cycling Bond earned a Commonwealth Games bronze medal in the road time trial and set a New Zealand record on the track in the 4000m individual pursuit. Now his sole focus will be rowing.
“I was fully immersed (in cycling) when I was on the bike. But I can flip a switch and I’ll now give full attention (to rowing).”
Bond has wasted no time. “I’ve been for a few rows this week. The sensation is still there. The shoulders are a bit tight and sore and the hands, but I’ve been expecting that.”
Rowing New Zealand has fully supported Bond’s return to rowing. “Hamish’s past achievements in the sport of rowing and more recently in cycling, are proof enough that his natural talents and hunger for success are an unstoppable force. We’re obviously very happy to have Hamish return to the Rowing NZ programme and look forward to seeing him out on the water again,” said Rowing NZ Chief Executive Simon Peterson in their media release.
“My challenge is to get up to speed as quickly as possible, but without injury. I can’t, of course, do 20km rows, but I’m not starting from square one. My heart and lungs are good and my legs are the best they’ve ever been,” says Bond who admits he will have to work on his boat feel.
Bond says his body did change to adapt to cycling; “But less than you would think. I was pretty light early on (for road cycling) but I have transitioned back over time and in the last few months on the track. So my body weight is not far off what it was rowing. It’s just all of the small muscles like the stabilisers around the shoulders and the lower back that will feel it.”
Citing the eight as the boat Bond wants to be part of, he says he’s not after any seat in particular. “My natural inclination is stroke seat, but I’m not in a position at the moment (to choose). I’m going to be judged on current form, not what I’ve done in the past.”
The news that Bond has returned to rowing created a huge amount of interest internationally and he says that the response has been humbling. Over the last couple of years Bond says he’s received messages from random European teenagers asking when he’s going to come back to rowing. “I guess those will now stop.”
“I went for my first sweep row today. I’m confident it’ll all come back quite quickly. You’ve just got to rip the scab off and get into it.”