Rowing: Cohen is ready for life's new challenge

By David Leggat

Nathan Cohen is a content man.

Having taken the decision to walk away from a sport which has dominated his life for a dozen years - his Olympic gold medal tucked away along with a host of rosy memories - Cohen is preparing for the next stage of his life.

On one point Cohen is firm; his retirement was not linked tightly to the irregular heart beat problems which affected his final year in the sport.

Certainly it didn't help, but Cohen said there were other elements which went into the decision.

"To be honest that's not the reason," he said yesterday.

"The only thing it did was make me take an enforced break from the sport and taking that time gave me a true chance to reflect and decide what I wanted to do next."

Cohen, who won the double scull gold with Joseph Sullivan at last year's London Olympics - to follow two consecutive world championship titles - had to pull out during this year's worlds in South Korea where he was part of the quad.

He says the condition is manageable, he could have kept rowing, but either way it is a health issue he'll have to handle for the rest of his life.

He had been thinking about his future in the sport over the past few months. The decision was gradual, not spur of the moment, and "I feel quite comfortable knowing it was a bit of a journey rather than something that came up overnight".

The clincher came last weekend as he stood on the bank at Lake Karapiro watching his elite team mates racing in a pre-Christmas regatta.

"I didn't mind not being out there, and that made it almost feel like 'this is the right decision'," Cohen said.

A junior and under 23 world champion medallist, Cohen finished fourth at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 with Rob Waddell in the double but his relationship with Sullivan is how the 27-year-old will be best remembered.

World championship wins at Karapiro in 2010 and Bled, Slovenia, a year later set up the crowning achievement in London, where they flew home, mowing down the opposition with a trademark sizzling late run.

Cohen now has a greater appreciation for an old line. "You're a world champion for a year, and an Olympic champion forever.

"I never really thought about that till the last couple of months. I can be more than content knowing I achieved the pinnacle of the sport.

"It makes this decision easier knowing I have stood on top of the podium and had the national anthem played for you. It's one of those memories that'll never go away."

Cohen, who is starting a career in commercial banking with the BNZ, will keep himself fit with a range of activities. He wants to stay close to rowing too.

"It's exciting to have that option to be involved in a different capacity. It's been a big part of my life."

Rio in 2016 seemed to be on his radar, defending champions and all that. But Beijing and London is enough. He says Rio didn't have the same lure and put that down to having achieved everything he wanted.

New Zealand rowing is in its finest period, with sustained success across a range of boats for several years. Cohen can be proud of his part in that climb to the top.

- NZ Herald

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