We really only know what we hear through the media about the gold-medal winning Kiwi Pair of Hamish Bond and Eric Murray: the genetically gifted, unparalleled winners in their field, Olympic champions.
In The Kiwi Pair, you’ll discover a fascinating insight into the strained relations, the coaching styles, the epic levels of training, and the scant financial situations of New Zealand’s rowers over the last decade and more. It really shows what rowers Hamish Bond and Eric Murray had to power through to become NZ’s cherished Kiwi Pair.
The lads start their stories as alternating chapters, first using rowing as off-season fitness for rugby, then both discovering a coaches who would build and then cement their interest in rowing as their primary sport. Both made their way up the junior ranks of NZ Rowing’s age group teams, Eric a few years before the younger Hamish, both fighting hard for their spots in the Rowing 8’s and 4’s and sometimes the pairs, with other rowers. Then one fateful day, Hamish suggested to Eric that they become a pair with the 2012 Olympics as their goal. NZ Rowing & Olympics campaign coach Dick Tonks was in agreement, and there began the record-breaking partnership we know today.
Hamish Bond struck me as the ultimate competitor, unrelenting in his goals to push himself to see just how fast he could row and how far he could get. Eric Murray is a more relaxed personality, but provides the strong engine to glide the thin fibreglass boat through the water – and match the levels that Hamish Bond would set.
The relationship between the two could never be described as close, and they say themselves that their deep respect for the other and their abilities is what firstly comes to mind when asked to describe their relationship. Both acknowledge they are different personalities but they are so complementary on the water; it shines through their descriptions of absolute flow and connection as they win each race.
It’s interesting to read of the sour tensions between the Kiwi Pair and their initial Olympics rowing coach Dick Tonks, before they moved onto better relations and different training styles with their 2016 Olympics campaign coach Noel Donaldson. The book touches on some of New Zealand’s other top rowers including Mahé Drysdale, Rob Waddell and the Evers-Swindell sisters.
Eric and Hamish also touch on the difficulties in maintaining family life when required to tour overseas to race, and spend many hours training on the water. Hamish Bond also speaks of his growing interest in road cycling during his rowing years, a sport which he is now attacking with vigour in 2017.
The Kiwi Pair is a great read for all sports fans and anyone who has ever trained competitively. Written with the assistance of knowledgeable sports commentator Scotty Stevenson, the book contains insight and bucketfuls of inspiration and is just a good story of a great journey that deserves to be set down on paper.
Reviewed by Amie Lightbourne
The Kiwi Pair
by Hamish Bond & Eric Murray, with Scotty Stevenson
Published by Penguin Books NZ