Rowing: Emma Twigg's powered to dig deep for gold

Hawke's Bay rower Emma Twigg has heard the predictions suggesting she will be on the podium at the London Olympics.

The women's single sculler is comfortable with them too. In fact there's only one medal she is eyeing - gold.

"There's four or five of us who can win on the day. It's all about getting the processes right ... if I can have a satisfactory World Cup campaign, arrive in London in good shape and be the one who produces something special on the day gold could be mine," Twigg, 25, said.

The two-time Hawke's Bay Sportsperson of the Year award winner has an extra incentive to medal in London. It could mean the difference between retaining or returning her sponsored Skoda Yeti Four Wheel Drive vehicle from Euro City.

"At this stage I've got it until the Olympics. If I do well in London I'll be able to keep it a bit longer," Twigg explained during a recent visit home from her Waikato base to collect the vehicle.

Euro City also sponsored a similar vehicle for fellow New Zealand representative Hamish Burson whose family are Hawke's Bay-based.

A Napier Girls' High School product, Twigg has been in Europe since May 19 as part of her buildup to London. She raced in two World Cup regattas, recording a second in Munich behind the five-time Olympic medallist Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus and a fifth in Lucerne.

In addition she had training stints in Belgium and Germany.

Twigg, who put in up to 200km a week in training during March, was happy with her nationals campaign that month, considering she was underdone after resting up at Christmas. "Basically fatigue had set in because I wasn't coping with my workload. I needed to re-evaluate how I did things like eating the right food and I came back well after the rest," Twigg said.

At the Lake Karapiro-hosted nationals Twigg retained her single sculls title and regained the fours title alongside Juliette Haigh, Kelsey Bevan and Kayla Pratt.

While the gold medallist at last year's third World Cup Regatta and bronze medallist at the 2010 Lake Karapiro-hosted world championships doesn't get home to the Bay as often as she likes she has nothing but praise for the backing she receives from the Bay community.

"It's not by choice but by circumstances. I still row for the Bay at nationals and it's nice to give something back," Twigg said.

"I know a lot of people in the Bay including my former teachers at Napier Girls' High School follow my blog."

She continues to be impressed by the number and quality of Bay rowers who turn up at nationals each year.

"The increase in numbers began back in the days of the twins and they just continue to get bigger and bigger," Twigg said referring to Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell, the Bay's most famous rowing products who have since become Caroline Meyer and Georgina Earl.

The 2005 junior world champion and 2007 under-23 world champion, Twigg, is aiming to remain on the international stage until the 2016 Olympics which will be her third if she rows in Rio. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics Twigg finished third in the B final and described the environment as "unpredictable".

"I'm still enjoying it. The day I stop enjoying it or the day I start going backwards will be the day I stop," Twigg said.

A gold medal in London will go a long way to enhancing that enjoyment.

Hawke's Bay Rowing Club stalwart Cedric Bayly and Chris Morgan coached Twigg at the club before she moved to Waikato. "I knew right from early on she was going to be fairly special. Emma could develop extra power on the rowing machine and with her work on the water," Bayly, who coached her for two years, recalled.

Bayly remembered Twigg winning both the under-17 and under-18 single scull titles in the same year at a Maadi Cup national secondary schools regatta.

"Caroline [Meyer] is the only other rower to do that. That was Emma's second Maadi Cup regatta and at her first one the previous year she made a B final."

Bayly pointed out Twigg was easy to coach and she was always a leader in the crews she was in. He believed Twigg has prepared well for London.

"She has done the work. A lot of things have to come together for a rower to reach a final at the Olympics. I'm confident Emma will medal if everything is in her favour," Bayly added.

Twigg's Napier Girls' High School careers adviser Ali Horrocks also highlighted Twigg's sixth form year when she won the two titles at Maadi Cup before going back the following year to retain her under-18 title.

"Emma had amazing will power. She was our head prefect in her final year and went on to do a management degree at Waikato University ... she will be well prepared for life after rowing. She was superbly fit and a natural athlete who was talented in a lot of sports. She had all the attributes and yet while she was doing all the training she was still in tune with life around her," Horrocks explained.

"Although Emma is looked up to she still has her feet on the ground," she added.

Should Twigg capture gold in London, Horrocks may find herself repeating these comments to international media later this year.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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