Kids meet Olympic rowing hero

By Kiri Gillespie

New Zealand Olympic hero Hamish Bond gave Mount Maunganui children a golden treat as he helped present an autographed Olympic flag and banner to Omanu School.

A banner bought at this year's Tauranga police CIB auction was presented to the school yesterday, signed by all medal-winning Olympians from New Zealand.

Bond helped present the banner, after putting himself and rowing teammate Eric Murray in with the banner package.

"I thought we could chuck in a visit for a school of their choice, as a sweetener and hopefully raise a few dollars," he said.

The ploy worked and the banner was sold to a parent of the school for $2000. Murray's baby son was ill yesterday, so only Bond appeared at Omanu School.

After speaking and posing for photographs with children, he told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend that elite sport was often a selfish pursuit.

"You have to be that way to train so hard. Now is our time to give back a little and hopefully inspire some kids to take part in the 2024 Olympics."

Peter Blackwell, who organised the auction, said he was pleased Bond had arrived with the banner and flag. "Hamish has made himself available to come into the school to speak with the kids which is really great. He didn't have to do that but he did. He hadn't been to the auction before and saw what it was all about and the generosity from people and he got on board."

Mr Blackwell said it was a real pleasure to see the children interact with Bond, who spoke to them about working hard for their goals.

"For them to see any of their many heroes is really important."

Children got to touch the gold medal Bond won in the London Olympics and pose for photographs with him.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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