Rowing: 60 Seconds with Peter Taylor

Peter Taylor Rowing Lightweight Mens Four. Photo / Christine Cornege
Peter Taylor Rowing Lightweight Mens Four. Photo / Christine Cornege

You won New Zealand's first Olympic lightweight rowing medal (double sculls bronze with Storm Uru at London in 2012) and first world championship lightweight coxless four medal (silver in 2013). Do such milestones drive you?

It's more about how far I can push myself rather than aiming for outcomes.


In the lightweight four, the average weight of each athlete must be 70kg, with no one over 72.5kg. Explain the discipline required to stay away from the buffet?

In my day-to-day training, nutrition is just as important as what I do on the water. I spend a lot of time with nutritionists and physiologists to ensure I'm at five per cent body fat. All I am is muscles, bone and ligaments, with a few organs thrown in. It is a struggle and that's why I place so much importance on it.


What happens when chocolate or a kebab strays into your path?

I would always like to [tuck in] but after a big regatta, when you've got your weight right down, there's always some pizza or ice-cream to get stuck into. It's a chance to take the brakes off, and a mental release because you've constantly been watching what's on your plate. To do that for a few days without worry is relaxing.


Do you still play golf to relax?

No, not really since the days preparing for Beijing. Storm and I would get a bucket of balls, or play nine holes, but the past few years have left less down-time and more of that is spent with physios and masseurs trying to get you that extra edge on the water.


How long can you sustain this?

I love what I do, and we've got a great group at the lake. I get up in the morning and I'm excited to row. Why do something else? I'm not sure I'd get the same enjoyment from a 8.30am-5pm desk job.


How difficult is it to switch between sculling with two oars to sweep oar rowing with one oar?

I was fortunate to have an inspirational coach at school called Noel Lynch. He has passed away, but all our Wellington College rowers were encouraged to do everything - sculling, sweeping, bow side and stroke side. That gave me a good gauge of boat feel, where the boat rhythm is ingrained and you get instant feedback from every stroke.

With two older brothers, I always had a competitive nature. With rowing, I found that after a few years, the kids with raw talent tended to drop out, and the ones who did the work came to the top; I was one of them.


You're an Outward Bound ambassador. What impact did the 10-day course have on you in 2006?

I found the physical challenges and risk-taking within my capacity but it helped me deal with being in crew boats. I was very much a single-minded person before my course; my way was always the right way. Outward Bound showed me how to work and succeed as a group. Not everybody operates the same way as me, and that crossed over to my sport and daily life.


Tell us about spending time in schools working on behalf of the New Zealand Olympic Committee.

I was fortunate post-London to experience close-hand the impact medal winners had on wider New Zealand. Schools studied the Games and it took me by surprise that we helped inspire kids to achieve. Getting New Zealand kids to aim at being world-class rather than mediocre made for a cool experience.

- Herald on Sunday

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