Eric Murray's words of wisdom for disappointed rowers: 'Just remember that Hamish and I came out of a boat that failed'

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It was up to Eric Murray to offer the most honest yet inspirational insight into the performance of the New Zealand rowing team here in Rio.

Peter Williams managed to grab our star rowers, who are understandably still beaming from their Rio glory.
Source: Breakfast

The target, which became a very public number, was five medals.

In the end, after a week long regatta, New Zealand's total was only three.

Never mind that there were 69 countries competing and that New Zealand was second equal with Germany on the rowing medal table after Great Britain.

The reality is that New Zealand failed to reach their target despite having eleven crews here - eight of them making finals.

But Eric Murray, ever the type A personality, grabbed the microphone at a function to celebrate the end of the Olympic rowing today.

To those three crews which failed to make finals, and to those who had made finals but failed to win a medal, he had a simple message.

"Just remember that Hamish and I came out of a boat that failed."

That's a reference to the four that he and Hamish Bond were part of which went to the Beijing Olympics eight years ago as the defending world champions, but couldn't make the final.

Peter was doing his thing when gold medallist Murray seized his chance to hijack the action.
Source: Breakfast

After that, some serious introspection was needed, he said, and hard questions needed to be asked.

Like: what do I really want out of my sport? Do I want to win an Olympic medal? Am I prepared to work really hard to achieve my goals?

Obviously for Eric Murray in late 2008, the answers were pretty easy. He wanted success, and boy has he had it.

So you'd like to think that his message today would strike a chord with a whole heap of the rowing squad and their supporters.

Because despite the failure to reach that medal target, the number of crews in finals, and more particularly the number that placed 4th, offered plenty of hope for the next Olympic cycle.

The mood at the New Zealand club was quite upbeat, despite the results. After all, as Mahe Drysdale pointed out in his interview with me on Q and A, this was the second most successful Olympic regatta ever for New Zealand.

But there's still that nagging feeling of not reaching targets, and that hurts.

Our presenter in Rio sings the praises of our golden boys.
Source: 1 NEWS

But as with cycling, and to a certain extent swimming, New Zealand is now becoming very good at peaking for world championships and then not reaching those same heights at the Olympics.

How do we overcome this?

The complexities of that question are way, way beyond my pay grade, but rest assured it's a subject that will be occupying the minds of coaches, administrators, technology specialists, nutritionists, medical staff and physical trainers over the next Olympic cycle.

Because halfway through these Olympic Games, the number of New Zealand 4th place finishes is emerging as the most frustrating Kiwi theme of these games.

Of the six fourth place finishes so far, three have come in rowing.

So the potential for a medal haul of around 5 or 6 at the next Olympic Games can still be a reality.

The re-emergence of two eights is a welcome development, and both crews reaching finals is really encouraging.

It does pose a conundrum for administrators though.

Back in the 70s and 80s, eights were the glamour crews and successful as well, with Olympic medals in 1972 and 1976, and world championship titles in 1982 and 1983.

Soon after, when that run of success dropped off, the strategy was to develop smaller boats. They were cheaper to fund, and if done well, the smaller crews would mean more medals.

That worked a treat for years until New Zealand rowing was confident again to get back in the big boat game.

So with both eights now among the world's best, where is the emphasis going to be in the next four years?

Bond and Murray and Mahe Drysdale are towards the end of their careers.

Genevieve Behrent and Rebecca Scown are in the eight as well as the pair. They can't keep up the two boat schedule for the next four years.

So much points to more of an emphasis on eights in the next four years.

But whatever the direction rowing takes for the next four year cycle, the words of Eric Murray should ring loud to every aspiring Olympic rower.

The best breeder of success is failure.

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