NZ rowing elite relish opportunity to prepare on familiar waters

Our world champion women's eight rowing team's been training in Christchurch this week, for the first time in decades.

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This week the eight has been training in Christchurch for the first time in decades. Source: 1 NEWS

As a result of being stuck in New Zealand due to Covid-19, many of the rowers have had a chance to spend time with their families and train at their old stomping ground, Kerr's Reach.

For more than half of the women's eight squad it's their first time back on the Avon since high school.

Grace Prendergast, a member of the eight, says that returning to Kerr’s Reach takes some getting used to.

"I’m always amazed how many crews fit on Kerr’s Reach, it's a lot narrower than we're used to,” she said.

Fellow teammate Ella Greenslade says the ability to train in a new location is a welcome change.

“It’s really helpful for us cause we do the same thing every day in the same location so it's really helpful for us to just get a bit of a fresh environment,” Greenslade said.

Along with the fresh environment, the rowers have had the added benefit of facing fresh competition with Canterbury's top school rowers acting as "training partners" at times this week.

Canterbury Rowing regional manager Logan Keys says that the students also benefit from being able to rub shoulders with New Zealand’s rowing elite.

“It shows them what the next level is. All the athletes here performed well at Maadi and plenty of medals and success but just being out here and seeing the next step, they realise there’s more to do and further to go,” Keys said.

Christchurch Girls' rower Emily Bowden was left in awe of the intensity of the women’s eight.

“Every single session they go out there and smash themselves,” Bowden said.

“You row out alongside them and we pick it up a bit to try stay with them, and it's honestly just unreal.”

The inspiring work rate of the rowing elites is likely down to the looming Olympic start date now just months away.

Prendergast says the long awaited commencement of the Tokyo Games has added to the excitement.

“Getting to the 100 day milestone is exciting. It got called off just before 100 days last year and it felt so far away for such a long time, and now we're like ‘oh it's coming round quickly’ and these next few months will go fast cause we are excited, ready to race and looking forward to it,” Prendergast said.