Former coach Ian Weenink could not be prouder of the performances of his proteges on the Sea Forest Waterway Olympic rowing course in Tokyo yesterday.
Weenink coached New Zealand men's double scull stroke Chris Harris and women's quad rower Georgia Nugent-O'Leary from the very beginning of their careers at the Aramoho Whanganui Rowing Club.
Both featured on the Olympic rowing programme running second in their respective B Finals yesterday.
Weenink said the fact both featured in B Finals showed just how fickle the sport could be on any given day at any given regatta.
Neither Harris nor Nugent-O'Leary would have been out of place in an A final vying for medals rather than being relegated to a race to find the best of the rest.
"Not matter what, Harry and Georgia both made the team to compete at an Olympic Games and that is simply incredible, an achievement very few athletes ever get to reach," Weenink said.
"I have coached both right from the start and I doubt you could find more hard-working, humble people. Right from the start both showed a real aptitude for the sport and deserve every success they get.
"Harry was a scrawny wee Whanganui High School boy who rocked up to the Aramoho club on his bike one day asking if he could take a single scull boat out for a trial run.
"I told him to come back another day when others were around. He turned out to be one of the most versatile rowers in the country. Since joining the elite crews, Harry has been used in the men's eight, the quad, the straight four and the double.
"We had some good success right from the start, including the U18 doubles at Maadi Cup, U19 doubles at nationals, while Georgia also won the U18 doubles at Maadi with Jackie Gowler when I was coaching."
Weenink was also the first serious coach Jackie and sister Kerri Gowler had and both are key members of the New Zealand Eight rowing for Olympic gold in Tokyo. Kerri Gowler and New Zealand women's pairs partner Grace Prendergast race for gold later today.
"I think the women's pair and both our men's and women's eights have the right people in the right seats in my opinion, but I think other crews could have been seated better.
"Placement in seats is crucial. I also wonder sometimes whether the endurance factor is as strong as it used to be."
Meanwhile, Nugent-O'Leary's parents Dan O'Leary and Jane Nugen-O'Leary were proud of their daughter - reluctantly from a distance.
"We had planned to be in Japan during the Olympics until Covid showed up," Dan O'Leary said yesterday.
"It was great to see her finish second in the B Final. To make the Olympics was incredible and we are so proud of that. George is only 23, so I think Paris (2024 Olympics) will be in her sights. She will only be 26 and while the training is hard, George enjoys the lifestyle up at Karapiro.
"She is also enjoying what time she has in Japan even though she only gets to go to the race venue and then straight back to the Olympic Village."