Rowing: Bond and Murray eye new threat

Eric Murray and Hamish Bond won in Lucerne to remain unbeaten since 2009. Photo / Getty Images
Eric Murray and Hamish Bond won in Lucerne to remain unbeaten since 2009. Photo / Getty Images

Triple world champions Eric Murray and Hamish Bond remain unbeaten in the men's pair but are keeping a close eye on some new challengers.

Murray and Bond took out the men's pair at the world cup regatta in Lucerne Sunday night, on a day when New Zealand's rowing team won one gold, three silver and one bronze medal.

The victory marked four wins in Lucerne since Murray and Bond formed their partnership after the Beijing Olympics, and gave them the rare distinction of being unbeaten during an Olympic cycle at this key international regatta.

But Murray and Bond didn't have it all their own way in Switzerland, trailing the Canadian pair for more than half the race before clicking up the gears and winning by half a boat length.

With the departure of British challengers Peter Reed and Andrew Triggs Hodge - who moved to the four after a 14-0 run of defeats to Murray and Bond - many assumed the gold at the London Olympics would be the Kiwis' to lose.

That may still prove to be the case, but the arrival of the in-form Canadian crew has created a new battle in the event to fill the void left when the Brits waved the white flag. Dave Calder and Scott Frandsen were silver medallists in Beijing and they chose this weekend to serve their intent to threaten New Zealand's supremacy in the pair.

After the race, Bond stressed he and Murray were always expecting to find a stern test in the event and this regatta has only confirmed that sentiment.

"They way the Canadians pushed, and the Greeks and some of the other crews, we're under no illusion that we're going to waltz through this campaign," he said. "We've really got to keep our heads down and keep pushing over these next couple months.

"We were never going to take it easy, but this has really been a wake-up call that we're not going to just completely walk through this."

Bond said that feeling never wavered, even after the absence of the British pair was confirmed.

"You never know - you can only race who turns up. Some good crews turned up today and they're going to keep turning up.

"Come the Olympics, we know the Canadians are going to step it up again, and the Greeks and the Italians and some of the others are going to improve."

Those rivals may also be heartened by Bond's appraisal of his opponents' room for improvement compared to the New Zealanders' own.

"You could say we've been in the pair the longest so, arguably, they've got more room to grow. We've got to keep our heads down and not let up."

In saying that, Bond thought it was a "good start" for the pair, considering the regatta was their first after months of training. And, in case the Canadians or others were feeling the Kiwis were ripe for the picking, Bond sounded a warning.

"To come off the plane and hit the ground running has been quite difficult. I'm hoping, over the next couple of weeks, we sharpen up a bit more and get back to where we were in New Zealand before we left."

- APNZ

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