On 9 August 2003, our NZ Under 19 Rowing Eight finished sixth at the Junior World Champs in Athens.
The crew was disappointed, but headed out to party once the rowing was over. There was reason to celebrate as Nathan Cohen had won a silver medal in the single scull.
However, one member of the Eight didn’t join the rest of the crew to party that night. Hamish Bond, our quiet two seat from Otago Boys, stayed in his room and contemplated the events of the day. Of course everyone in the crew was disappointed with our result, but it seemed to affect Hamish more than the rest of us. He knew he was capable of much better.
The following year, Hamish was again part of the U19 Eight and he suffered further disappointment. However, as he had left school by then, he was able to focus solely on his rowing. By the National Champs in 2005 he had taken 23 seconds off his 2km erg score since the Athens campaign and comfortably won the Under 21 single scull.
Over the next few years, Hamish was selected for an Under 23 Four and then quickly progressed to the Elite Four. With every season that passed, Hamish shaved seconds off his 2km erg time. He seemed to make big gains by doing a large amount of cycling during the winter and improving his aerobic base fitness. His 2km erg score became one of the best in the squad – it now sits around 5:45.
With the lower erg score, Hamish was able to develop a very effective rhythm. He tended to have a higher stroke rating than most, but developed a unique ability to pick the boat up at exactly the right time. With a lot of crews, even some very good ones, you can see the stern of the boat “stop” momentarily during the stroke. Crews stroked by Hamish don’t “stop” at all. His pace is very consistent from start to finish, and his crews often “negative split” – where the second half of the race is faster than the first. This means that opposition crews tend to drop away gradually in the third 500m.
At the 2007 World Champs, Hamish stroked the Elite Four to a gold medal with a blistering last 500m sprint. However, there was enormous disappointment for that crew when they were relegated to the B Final at the Beijing Olympics a year later.
This was the making of the incredible combination with Eric Murray. After the disappointment of 2008, Eric had thoughts of giving up. Hamish already knew that their pair combination was fast, as the Four used to regularly train against each other in pairs. So he convinced Eric into giving the pair a shot and the rest is history.
Hamish has that magical rhythm. Everyone who sits behind Hamish in a boat goes fast, whether it be a pair, four, or eight. Hamish has won the Premier Pair at the National Championships every year since 2008, with several different partners.
It’s a bit cliche, but you can’t help but look at how many disappointments Hamish had to suffer before getting to this point. Most of the squad would describe Hamish as disciplined and focused. That unwavering focus and determination has today produced an Olympic gold medal.
Unbeaten in international competition for four years. Incredible!