Three rowers in the New Zealand Olympic Team have connections with Pahiatua: Charlotte Spence and the Gowler sisters Kerri and Jackie.
Rowing has been one of the most successful of all New Zealand's Olympic Sports and there are high hopes for many medals this time.
Charlotte Spence is the daughter of Sarah Walker, who grew up on Ross na Clonagh farm, just out of Pahiatua. Sarah is Harry and Edna Walker's (both deceased) youngest daughter and sister of Louise, Jacqui and Simon - who has been farming Ross na Clonagh since the late 1980s.
Simon has strong rowing connections, being a World Rowing International Umpire since 2009 and has attended 13 events. His highlight was as a boat driver at the Rio Olympics. He was selected for the 2020 and now the 2021 Masters Championships in Austria; both cancelled due to Covid.
■ Charlotte began her rowing career in 2011 at high school at Epsom Girls' Grammar School where she earned a silver medal in the coveted Levin Jubilee Cup for the girls' U18 eight.
Charlotte claimed bronze at the 2016 New Zealand Rowing Championships, in the U20 pair and bronze in the premier eight. This led to Charlotte's selection into the New Zealand Junior team to compete at the 2016 World Rowing Junior Championships in Rotterdam.
At the 2017 New Zealand Rowing Championships, Charlotte took off - winning gold in the U20 pair and in the U22 four as well as earning a bronze in the women's premier eight.
This led to her selection in the 2017 Under 23 New Zealand team to attend the World Rowing U23 Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Then she made her elite debut at the 2017 World Rowing Championships in Sarasota, Florida, where she raced in the women's four with Jackie Gowler, Beth Ross and Kirstyn Goodger.
In 2018 Charlotte returned to Auckland Regional Performance Centre where she defended her title in the New Zealand Rowing Championships U22 four and also picked up bronze medals in the U22 pair, premier coxless four and the premier eight.
Charlotte again was selected in the U23 team to race in a women's coxless four, this time in Poznan, Poland. She achieved her best result to date with a fifth place finish at the 2018 World Rowing U23 Championships.
She raced in the 2019 World Rowing U23 Championships in the women's four in Sarasotta, Florida. In 2020, Charlotte was included in the newly formed elite development squad, based at Lake Karapiro and is now again in the Elite squad lining up at the Olympic Games.
Charlotte is studying towards a Bachelor of Health Science at Massey.
■ Brent and Diane Gowler are the parents of Kerri and Jackie. Brent was born in Pahiatua, his father Clive Gowler was from Pahiatua, where he worked as an electrician for Begleys. He was a member of the Pahiatua Volunteer Fire Brigade competition team.
"We moved to Feilding when he purchased an electrical business there," said Brent. "My mother, Marlene, was from Pahiatua, her maiden name was Knox from Konini. Veronica Knox [my grandmother] resided in Pahiatua for years.
"I did all but the last year of primary school at Pahiatua Primary. Dianne's father, Clyde Cadwallader, was from Eketahuna. His mother was Adelaide Goss from Nireaha. Dianne's mother, Rae, was from Pongaroa, her maiden name was Berry."
■ Kerri Gowler began rowing in 2009 for Nga Tawa Diocesan School and Aramoho Wanganui Rowing Club. She was first selected to the New Zealand team in the 2013 elite women's eight.
Then in 2014 Kerri burst onto the international scene in the U23 women's pair. With Grace Prendergast, the duo formed a fast combination and went onto win gold at the World rowing U23 Championships in a new world-best time (later beaten in 2019.)
Just weeks after this campaign, they were selected to be part of the women's four at the elite World Rowing Championships in Amsterdam. The four produced a phenomenal race, winning by over six seconds and destroying the previous world-best time, setting a new marker at 6:14:36 that still stands today.
Kerri and Grace have been inseparable since their 2014 selection. They qualified two boats for the 2016 Olympic Games, rowing in both the eight and the pair at the 2015 World Rowing Championships and picking up two silver medals in the process.
At Rio 2016, they were placed fourth in the women's eight. In 2017 Kerri and Grace went undefeated through the season, setting a new world-best time and became world champions in Sarasota. In 2018 they had to settle for second place behind Canada at the World Champs.
In 2019 Kerri was selected for the women's pair and the women's eight for the international season. She stuck to the pair at World Rowing Cup III where she and Grace Prendergast won a gold medal.
Kerri was in scintillating form at the World Rowing Championships in 2019 in both her crews, winning gold in the women's pair and the eight alongside sister Jackie.
The win in the women's eight was the first time that New Zealand had won the event in the history of the World Rowing Championships regatta and has seen them seeded first in Tokyo as reigning world champions with the target on their backs for the Olympic Games this week.
Kerri is working towards a Bachelor of Science majoring in psychology.
■ Jackie Gowler is also a New Zealand representative rower. She received her secondary schooling at Nga Tawa Diocesan School in Marton. While at school, she took up rowing, inspired by her elder sister Kerri and trying to outdo her. Her international career started with Juniors and Youth Olympic Games in 2014/U23 in 2015 and 2016 then to elite level in 2017/18 and 2019.
Jackie is stroke seat of the New Zealand Women's eight (world champions in 2019, alongside her sister Kerri; interestingly two other sisters are in this boat, Lucy and Phoebe Spoors) Jackie will make her Olympic debut in Tokyo 2021.