Olivia Loe will arrive at the world rowing championships next week in Austria with a sense of unfinished business.

Loe, who is part of the New Zealand women's double sculls crew alongside Brooke Donoghue, is still hurting after their result at last year's pinnacle event in Bulgaria.

That implies some kind of dramatic failure, though Loe and Donoghue ended up on the podium, only behind the Lithuanian combination at the finish line.

But second was nowhere near good enough for the highly driven 27-year-old.


"It did hurt," said Loe. "I'm super competitive and I don't like to lose. I guess for some people silver is not losing but if we want to win in Tokyo [next year] we can't drop our standards. It hurt a lot but it's been the push we need to make ourselves step up."

The combination spent the summer analysing their processes, technique and training. There was no need for a massive overhaul, but there was plenty of introspection.

"We had a really hard look at ourselves," said Loe. "We didn't go to World Champs last year to get silver. That's not our goal … that's not our standard. We had to look back on it and think, what are the things we could have done better? It's made us really honest in our training, nit picking I guess, to find things that are going to get us speed."

Loe and Donoghue were an almost instant success, becoming world champions at their first attempt in 2017.

There was good chemistry from the beginning, which created an environment where the tough, but necessary conversations, could take place.

"We decided when we were first selected that we would be really honest and candid," said Loe. "I guess it means we are pretty frank with each other, but I am not going to say anything to her that isn't productive. We both want the same goal so it's all in the pursuit of that."

Among the hundreds of athletes assembled in Linz, Loe will stand out.

Olivia Loe (left) and Brooke Donoghue. Photo / Photosport
Olivia Loe (left) and Brooke Donoghue. Photo / Photosport

In a sport that favours beanpoles with long levers, the 1.70m Loe has successfully defied the odds.


"My height got brought up a lot as I came through age groups and I managed to slip into a lot of teams," said Loe. "The biggest decision I made was that if I wanted to be an elite rower and go to the Olympics, I had to stop just slipping into teams. I couldn't use my height as an excuse for not being the fastest. If you want to make teams you have got to win seat races and out on the water and that's what I started to do."

It also took a technical adjustment, which Loe has mastered.

"I always rowed with tall girls because the team is full of them so I had to row to their length," said Loe. "Technically it made me be a bit stricter with myself. I got told 'row longer, row longer,' and now I am one of the rowers that row the longest."

As the daughter of 49-test All Black Richard Loe, she was surrounded by sport from a young age.

"We were always pushed to be better," said Loe. "There was always some competition we could get involved in and that holds me in good stead now."

Her memories also include some unorthodox rugby inspired drills in the lounge room, alongside older sister Jessica (who has also rowed for New Zealand),

"It was how we spent a lot of evenings," laughed Loe. "[Dad] would pause the rugby, he would get the stool out and be like, 'this is a ruck, so what would you do here, so what would you do different?'

"If someone had gone into a ruck the wrong way or not low enough he would say 'this is what I would do differently, this is what you should do, hit it at this angle'. It's a bit different but we loved it."

Loe has been part of the New Zealand system since 2010, and is now starting to enjoy the fruits of her labour.

"I've had to give up a lot of things but I wouldn't pick another life right now," said Loe. "This is exactly where I want to be and the chance to go to Tokyo will make it all worth it."

The World Championships run from August 25 to September 1.