Since I was a young buck I have admired professional athletes and envied how they would spend their days training to better themselves in a crusade to make their nation proud. It wasn't until I was a lot older that I actually started to believe that I could be one of them.
The Reelicks were good family friends of ours and at the time had two of their children rowing for Bay Coast Rowing Club in Tauranga. I was invited to join them and although I was reluctant at first being fully aware of the early morning commitments, my mother told me that I was not to be rude and that I would be joining them. I may have been drifting in and out of consciousness during the early morning car rides to the club but it wasn't long until I was wide awake. I was sitting in 7 seat of an octuple when I realised I had found something truly special.
From there I continued to turn up to the club each weekend more and more eager. A few month later when I enrolled at Tauranga Boys' College I was quick to sign up for the rowing team and begin my journey as a secondary school rower.
I can never emphasis enough just how beneficial my rowing experiences were for my holistic development during that period of my life. It wasn't long until the shy boy that entered college soon started to gain personal and social confidence, become intrinsically motivated, and develop leadership skills.
It was in July of 2007 that I put my family and friends through a pretty challenging time when I was diagnosed with a Hemangioblastomas - a brain tumour of the central nervous system. Thankfully due to the medical team at Tauranga and Starship hospital the tumour was successfully removed. The experience had a profound affect on me as I gained a real appreciation of life's vulnerability. It was then that I decided if I was going commit my precious time to something, I would damn well give it 100%.
After two years of failing to make an A or B-final, it was my 2008/2009 season when my rowing started to take off. I won my first tittle at the New Zealand Secondary School Rowing Championships (Maadi Cup) and went on to wear the silver fern on my chest for the first time.
From 2009 to 2011 I represented NZ in the U21 rowing team at the Youth Cup. At the youth cup lightweights compete in three events: Men's Eight, Quad and lightweight Double. I won medals in two of the events in the first year before returning for a clean sweep in both 2010 and 2011.
During that time I had the honour of being named as Head prefect at Tauranga Boys' College before graduating in 2010 and relocating to Cambridge to pursue my rowing dreams. In my love for all things sport, I also decided to pursue a degree in sport and exercise through Massey University's distance learning program.
In 2012 I had a very successful domestic season which lead to a national trial where I was selected to compete for NZ at the 2012 U23 World Championships in Lithuania. Although we didn't get the result we had wanted, stroking the coxless Lightweight Four at such a prestigious event was a an incredible experience. It left me with a hunger to continue my rowing journey and earn the right to wear the silver fern atop the podium.
2013 I travelled to Kazan, Russia with Matthew Dunham to race the Lightweight Double for NZ at the World University Games. With over 13,000 athletes (more than that at the 2012 London Olympics) competing in 27 sports, the games were as close as you could get to an Olympic Games type environment. Despite a very successful build up in NZ, we learnt a thing or two about the peaking process from our racing experience. Although not our goal, we still returned with our dignity winning the B-Final by over 5 seconds.
The NZ selectors noticed the potential we displayed in our training and testing over the build up for our Russian campaign which resulted in our selection for the 2013/2014 New Zealand Summer Squad. Our training from when we returned until national selection trials in March was spent with some of the the worlds best rowers. We also had access to some of the best support personnel an athlete could ever hope for. The progress I made and the knowledge I gained in that time was pricelss.
For the 2014 international season Matt and myself were again selected to contest the lightweight double but this time at the 2014 U23 World Championships in Varese, Italy. Our training through the New Zealand winter was not as successful as it was in 2013 and at the worlds we were again disappointed to only achieve a 9th placing.
Over the following domestic season (New Zealand 2014/2015 Summer) I rotated back to Waikato Regional Performance Center (WRPC) and was challenged with earning my way back in the favor of the New Zealand selectors. I made significant improvement as proven by a win in the single at the Christmas regatta over all the other lightweight scullers in the nation, and, after 2 years, I set a personal best for my 2km erg testing by 5 seconds. This time was also a 9 second improvement on my result in the same test a year prior after fracturing my left Scaphoid (carpal bone of the wrist).
Disappointingly, I let myself down again by under performing at the major regattas of the season and failed to gain selection for the 2015 elite team like I had set out. During some forced time away from the sport I gave some serious thought to my position and tried to gain an understanding for why I was not performing at the major regattas in the manner I knew I was capable, as proven by my performances in training. Was there something I was getting wrong or did I simply not have what it takes? The realisation I had was that the psychological competency I had so much confidence in was not in fact not a strength at all. With this bitter acceptance I went straight to my High Performance Sport New Zealand psychologist and said "I think I have pinpointed the problem, now I have 1 year to fix it if I want to gain selection and compete for New Zealand at the 2016 Rio Olympics."
While beginning to apply the changes in psychological approach to not just my rowing, but all aspects of my life, I was successful in gaining selection for the NZ University team to race at the 2015 World University Games. I found the enjoyment gained from my experiences in the sport improved significantly and ended up, for the first time, returning home from a world championship proud of my performance. I was the first NZ rower to win a medal at a Universiade since its inaugural event in 1959 and in a new personal best time of 6:58.4 in the single. The two most memorable experiences of the event; hearing a wall of people cheering me on despite the small NZ contingent present, and the reassurance that I had far from reached my potential.
Rowing New Zealand was not yet convinced that I had the potential to grow further in the sport so I spent the following summer with the Waikato RPC working my ass off to prove otherwise. A mix of a couple more PB's in my 2km and 5km erg tests plus some decent performances in the single and double, I was invited to the national selection trials where, for the first time, I was selected in the NZ Elite Rowing Team in the Men's Lightweight Double with Adam Ling, 2015 World Champion in the Men's Lightweight Single. Together we took to the course in Lucere, Switzerland to race towards qualification for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta. Unfortunately we fell short, placing 6th when we needed a top 3 placing. However, the lessons we learnt from that experience were invaluable and fueled our fire as we get back into the grind working toward our ultimate goal of earning some Olympic hardware for the greatest nation in the world.
Born: 7th June 1992 in Christchurch, New Zealand
Club: Tauranga Rowing Club (TRC) 2007-2011,
Waikato Rowing Club (WRC) 2011 onwards
Coach (Current): Gary Roberts
Education: Matahui Road Primary School,
Tauranga Boys' College,
Degree: Bachelor of Sport and Exercise, Majoring in Coaching and Management
Detailed Results: rowit profile
- Maadi Cup (Rep Tauranga Boys' College): Gold - Boy's U18 coxed Lightweight Four.
- Selection for the 2009 NZ U21 Rowing Team.
- Youth Cup: Bronze - Men’s U21 Eight; 4th - Men’s U21 Quad; Silver - Men’s U21 Lightweight Double.
- Selection for the 2010 NZ U21 Rowing Team.
- Youth Cup: Gold - Men’s U21 Eight; Gold - Men’s U21 Quad; Gold - Men’s U21 Lightweight Double.
- NZ National Champs (Rep Waikato RPC): Silver - Men’s Premier Lightweight Pair; Bronze - Men’s U21 coxless Four; 4th - Men's U21 Single.
- Selection for the 2011 NZ U21 Rowing Team.
- Youth Cup: Gold - Men’s U21 Eight; Gold - Men’s U21 Quad; Gold - Men’s U21 Lightweight Double.
- NZ National Champs (Rep Waikato RPC): Gold - Men’s Premier coxless Lightweight Pair; Gold - Men’s Premier Lightweight Double; 4th - Men’s Premier coxless Four; 4th - Men’s U21 Single.
- Selection for the 2012 NZ U23 Rowing Team.
- U23 World Championships: 8th - Men’s Lightweight Coxless Four
- NZ National Champs (Rep Waikato RPC): Silver - Men’s Premier coxless Lightweight Pair
- NZ University National Championships (Rep Massey University): Gold - Men’s Championship Single; Gold - Men’s Championship Double
- Selection for the 2013 NZ World Univeristy Games Team
- World University Games: 7th - Men’s Lightweight Double
- NZ National Champs (Rep The New Zealand Summer Squad): Gold - Men’s Premier Lightweight Double; 4th - Men’s Premier coxless Four.
- Selection for the 2014 New Zealand U23 Rowing Team
- U23 World Championships: 9th - Men’s Lightweight Double
- NZ National Champs (Rep Waikato RPC): 5th - Men’s Premier Lightweight Single
- NZ University National Championships (Rep Massey University): Gold - Men’s Lightweight Pair; Silver - Men's Championship Single
- Selection for the 2015 NZ World University Games Team
- World University Games: Silver - Men's Lightweight Single
- NZ National Champs (Rep Waikato RPC): Silver - Men’s Premier Lightweight Single; 8th Men's Premier Single.
- Selection for the 2016 New Zealand Elite Rowing Team
- Final Olympic Qualification Regatta: 6th - Men's Lightweight Double