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Rowing: Donors help keep eights afloat as rowing squad named

Mahe Drysdale. Photo / Supplied
Mahe Drysdale. Photo / Supplied

Rowing New Zealand has listed "support from philanthropic donors" as a means of keeping their men's and women's eights programmes afloat this year.

The governing body yesterday announced a 39-strong, 10-crew squad for the first stage of the international season to contest World Cups in Poland and Switzerland, as well as the Henley Royal Regatta.

They whittled the trial numbers down from 51, although 10 athletes will be taken for each of the eights as part of an ongoing analysis through Europe.

The sport took a minor dip in funding from $5.3 million to $5.1 million per annum in December after missing their medal quota at the Rio Olympics.

Four of their five Games medallists - Mahe Drysdale, Eric Murray, Hamish Bond and Genevieve Behrent - are taking sabbaticals this year.

A total of 19 Olympians are returning to the programme.

In significant changes, Robbie Manson takes over the single sculls, Tom Murray and James Hunter link in the men's pair and former world championship silver medallists Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast return to the women's pair.

Five of the men's eight and four of the women's eight return from the Rio campaign.

A final trial will take place in August to select crews to contest September's world championships in the United States.

"We lost a bit of funding so have been looking at how we do things and trimming it," Rowing NZ high performance manager Alan Cotter said. "This year we won't stay in Europe the whole time. We'll come home, do more trialling, then head to Florida.

When you lose money, you've got to sharpen your pencil somewhere.
Rowing NZ high performance manager, Alan Cotter

The selections reinforce the small boat priority, although there is no place for a women's single sculler after Emma Twigg stepped away from the sport post-Rio.

Cotter says athletes need to meet a standard.

"We haven't got a women's singles sculler up to that standard at present."

Zoe McBride, who won the single sculls at the national championships, will join Jackie Kiddle in the lightweight women's double sculls.

The crews will train at Lake Karapiro before departing for Europe on June 8.

- NZ Herald

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