Andrew Alderson

Andrew Alderson is a sport writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Rowing: Cohens star in latest show

Nathan Cohen, Nathan Flannery, Fergus Fauvel and Hayden Cohen celebrate their victory in the quadruple sculls. Photo / Getty Images
Nathan Cohen, Nathan Flannery, Fergus Fauvel and Hayden Cohen celebrate their victory in the quadruple sculls. Photo / Getty Images

When Cohen brothers Nathan and Hayden get in a boat, they are usually hunting blue cod on family fishing expeditions near Stewart Island.

This week, they combined to chase red coats, the blazers bestowed upon race winners at the rowing national championships on Lake Ruataniwha, near Twizel.

Hayden Cohen is on the verge of following his Olympic champion brother into the international ranks. This week, they rowed competitively in a skiff - the Southern RPC (regional performance centre) quadruple sculls crew with Nathan Flannery and Fergus Fauvel - for the first time and won their final by powering away from the Auckland and Central RPCs in the final 500m.

The regatta determines who gets selected for national trials. A New Zealand squad is due to be named early next month for the first 2013 World Cup regatta in Sydney, from March 22-24.

At 21, Hayden is exactly six years younger than Nathan - they share the same January 2 birthday with sister Nicola in between - but he has earned his own accolades.

Hayden combined with Flannery to win the under-23 world championship double sculls title in Lithuania last year, pipping Germany by 1.37s. Just over a fortnight later, he (and dedicated parents Robyn and Phil) travelled to the Olympics to see Nathan and crewmate Joseph Sullivan row to victory. The performance was voted New Zealand's best sporting moment of 2012. Hayden Cohen says going to the Olympics motivated him to follow the same career path as his brother: "It was really cool to watch. It wasn't so much just that race that has spurred me on but the overall New Zealand success. It makes you want to be in Rio in 2016."

The younger Cohen has enjoyed mixing it with Olympians as part of Rowing New Zealand's summer squad. His aim is to be part of an elite crew this season.

Nathan yesterday expressed an interest in selection in the national quad sculls so unless he or Sullivan decide to race the single (in Mahe Drysdale's temporary absence), it seems likely Hayden will also contest a spot in the quad. Nathan yesterday won the men's premier singles race in a close finish with two more brothers, Michael Arms in second and Robbie Manson in third.

Cohen said: "It was a fast pace out there. I wanted to get to a good level to seal my place in the New Zealand squad. Today was a good start, I wanted to make sure I was competitive. Mahe Drysdale and Rob Waddell have dominated this race for a decade-and-a-half, so it is nice to be in that company."

Auckland RPC's Emma Twigg won her fifth consecutive championship in the women's singles yesterday.

Hayden is close to the RNZ high performance centre at Lake Karapiro by studying for a Bachelor of Management Studies at Waikato University. Another brother of an Olympic gold medallist could make the elite squad. Alistair Bond, the 23-year-old younger brother of Hamish, has been training in the lightweight programme. He missed the nationals with glandular fever, with Hamish replacing him in Southern's coxless four and eight crews.


New Zealand sibling Olympic medallists

Barry and Selwyn Maister (Hockey)
• Gold (1976)

Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell (Rowing double sculls)
• Gold (2004, 2008)

Bruce and Barbara Kendall (Windsurfing)
• Bronze, gold for Bruce (1984, 1988)
• Gold, silver, bronze for Barbara (1992, 1996, 2000)

- Herald on Sunday

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