Rio is another regatta, everyone is aiming for- Eric Murray

Image Credit: odt.co.nz

2012 London Olympic Champions, 8 times World Champions, FISA World Rowing Crew of the Year 2011/13, NZ Halberg Team of the Year 2007, 2009, 2012, New Zealand Order of Merit, Leaders of World Rankings, World Cup winners at recently concluded World Rowing Cup held at Poznan, Poland- Yes, all these associate with two names; Eric Murray and Hamish Bond who are leading the World of Rowing with their consistent title wins at world platforms. The Kiwi Pair, as they are called when competing in a team, is on a voyage to a legacy which will inspire generations to come. Eric spoke with us on their career together, legacy they have created and hurdles faced during this career.

Focus areas at the time of entering an event…

When we go out to race, we’ve made it our mission to just take things one race at a time. We have goals to win ‘events’ but you’ve got to make sure that you qualify through the rounds first in order to get into the next qualifying position and so forth. If you miss out on the final from the semi, then you can’t win a medal, so making sure each round is focused on before the next is what you have to do. The other things we’ve tried to do is go as fast as we can each race. What that’s done is made us win everything! We didn’t set out to win all our races, we just go out to row to our capabilities that we know we can produce and if that is not as good as someone else, then you’d have to accept they are the better crew.

Rio 2016 Summer Games as defending champions- preparations to title defense…

We don’t see it as a defense. It is another regatta, it is what everyone is aiming for and we have to treat it that way. Everyone is going out to win and we have to respect them for that. All we can do is prepare to the best of our abilities and row the best that we can in order to win the races.

Career- teaming together and other key moments…

We knew we were a good pair when we use to train together in the pair when we were part of the NZ M4- in 2006-2008. We would win races in NZ and so we knew we could go fast, but it never really crossed our minds until after our disappointment in Beijing in 2008 that we decided to give the pair a go and see how fast we could be in the world.

Games readiness & fitness regime…

We train 6 days a week and at least 2 sessions a day. It has taken ‘years’ of training to get us to our fitness level. We’ve built up a huge endurance base which allows us to train at a high intensity all the time. It has been hard on the bodies sometimes, but we have learnt what works for us and how we are feeling. We don’t do a lot of strength work as we find the endurance side of things to be more beneficial at this stage in our careers.

Infrastructure, facilities, medical assistance, and support system…

Over the years we have seen Rowing and Sport in NZ change. There is no funding available to all sportspeople, given that you have met requirements at international level. There is assistance from a wide range of services, doctors, physiotherapists, nutritionist, and psychologists just to name a few. It all helps with the ability to get us in the shape that is needed to compete against the best countries in the world.

Equipment, cost by standards, availability…

Rowing is an expensive sport. It doesn’t cost anything to row, but the equipment is expensive. It is more the time that is needed to train at the level required to compete against the best which is hard. We are lucky that NZ rowing has good funding and we can use the best equipment in the world when we turn up overseas. We don’t get new boats and oars all the time but we do get to use the best.

All-time favorites from Rowing, Rowers whom you watched to learn from…

When I was growing up and started rowing, you’d look up to figure heads in the sport like Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent who we’re the best of the pre-2000 generation. Rob Waddell was an obvious idol from his achievements and he was an NZ’er.

Hurdles and how you overcame these…

The biggest hurdles are overcoming disappointment and learning from that. Rowing is a sport where you put in 12 months of effort for one competition and if you don’t achieve your goal, then it will take another 12 months to try again. It’s hard when you are struggling with no funding or you’re constantly tired, or you’re not rowing as well as you’d like and people are beating you, it’s very difficult.

I have been lucky that I haven’t really missed any major teams. I missed some crews I wanted to be in in my early years, but I bounced back to work harder and make them the next year. Injury is always one that can set you back but I’ve been lucky that I haven’t had anything serious which has held me back for too long or has had long term effects.

Key Career targets…

I think we have set a pretty good legacy already. All we have tried to do is do our best and be happy that that’s been good enough to win. We want to go to Rio, row to our capabilities and that should be good enough to win.

Message to youngsters who are keen to make a career into Rowing…

Rowing is a good sport as it teaches you a lot of life skills. You have to have a good attitude, dedication, punctuality and team work. It take a lot of time to become good at it but you learn about yourself and about the sport and you will see some really good advances in your times and abilities early on, but it takes a lot more effort that further along in the sport you get. You have to remember to make it fun as if it’s not enjoyable then you won’t give it your best attention and your results will suffer.

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