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Powerful NZ rowing team named for Paris

An 18-strong New Zealand Olympic rowing team has been selected for Paris.
Set to race at her fifth Olympics, Emma Twigg has been selected for Paris and is aiming for a second gold in the single sculls PHOTO: ioc

An 18-strong rowing team, including nine athletes who have won World Championship or Olympic medals, has been named to represent New Zealand at the Paris Olympic Games next month.


Tokyo Olympic champion Emma Twigg is the most experienced team member and will become the first ever New Zealand rower to compete in five Olympic Games.


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The 37-year-old said it had been a huge journey since she competed as a 21-year-old in the women’s single sculls at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.


“Olympics number five is something I'm extremely proud of, reflecting on 21-year-old Emma, who was selected for her first Olympics in Beijing in 2008,” said Twigg.


“There's been some highs and some lows. It's all kind of part of the story and my result in Tokyo was the cherry on top I guess.


"It could have been the time that I retired and stepped away, but I'm really grateful to have been back in the boat for the last three years, and a short Olympic cycle has got me to my fifth Games which is a real privilege and an honour.


“Every Olympics I learnt something. In Tokyo, I certainly learnt a few things as well so to say that I've had four where I've learnt different things, that's definitely something that’s in my arsenal leading into Paris and it's something I hope to really draw upon.”



The women’s four of Kerri Williams, her sister Jackie Gowler, Davina Waddy and Phoebe Spoors also has vast Olympic and world championship experience. Williams is a double Olympic medalist, winning gold in the women’s pair and silver in the women’s eight at the Tokyo Olympics.


“It’s such an honour for me to represent New Zealand at the Olympics,” said Williams. “I feel grateful for the opportunity to compete against the best athletes in the world.


”Gowler was also in the eight in Tokyo and won a World Championship in the boat in 2019. Phoebe Spoors and Waddy were travelling reserves in Tokyo and will get to compete in their first Olympic race in Paris.


“My first memory of the Olympics was watching the 2012 London Games on TV with my family,” said Waddy.


“I remember the sense of awe and inspiration I had towards all sports.“At that stage, I was competing to a high level in equestrian eventing and hadn’t ever rowed, so my Olympic dreams were probably focused there."



There are strong family ties within the women’s squad as well as a significant link to Christchurch Girls High School. Waddy, Phoebe Spoors and her sister Lucy all began their rowing there. Lucy Spoors has been named in the women’s double sculls with Brooke Francis.


Both are former world champions and Olympic medalists. Lucy Spoors was in the women’s eight in Tokyo, while Francis won silver in the women’s double. Both athletes took time out after Tokyo to start families and returned to international competition last year. 


Jackie Kiddle and Shannon Cox have been named in the women’s lightweight double sculls.


Kiddle was a world champion in the event in 2019 but was unable to compete at what would have been her first Olympics in Tokyo after the late withdrawal of her partner Zoe McBride. She is also a world champion in coastal rowing, which has been included in the sport programme for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.


Cox made her international debut just a year ago at the world championships in Serbia, where she and Kiddle finished fifth.


Last month they won silver at the World Cup II regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland.  Alana Sherman and Kate Haines have been confirmed in the Women’s Pair after qualifying the boat for Paris at the recent Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland last month. It will be the first Olympics for both athletes.


“It's a huge honour and something that I've honestly dreamt about since I was in primary school,” said Haines.


“I remember always being super sporty and doing every sport and then in intermediate I even wrote in my time capsule thing I hope that I'm an Olympian one day. I feel like it's been this thing in my life for so long.”



The men’s squad includes Tokyo gold medalists Matt Macdonald and Tom Murray, who will row the men’s four with Ollie Maclean and Logan Ullrich. Maclean was a reserve in Tokyo, while Ullrich is set to compete in his first Olympics.


This time last year the two were competing against each other for their respective eights at the US Intercollegiate Rowing Association championships in New Jersey. Maclean is a graduate from Cal Berkeley, Ullrich graduated from University of Washington.


To be selected to row in Paris was important to Ullrich in two distinct ways.


“Firstly, it means I have completed a goal I set myself many years ago and achieving that goal is very fulfilling," said Ullrich. “The second is the sense of pride I have in representing the fern at the Olympics. I am a proud Kiwi and the honour of rowing for my country is truly life-changing.” 



Tom Mackintosh will compete in the men’s single sculls, hoping to join the list of New Zealand athletes to have excelled in the event. He won a bronze medal at the world championships last year, in his first season competing in the boat, and was in the men's eight which won gold in Tokyo. 


“While Tokyo was a ‘one of a kind Games’ I’m incredibly excited to be able to share this experience with our family, friends and supporters,” said Mackintosh.“I’m going well, but it’s different not being able to lean on other crew mates as much as last time. I’m embracing this season as unchartered territory and that really motivates me.”


Two top-class single scullers have been named in the men’s double sculls. Robbie Manson will compete in his third Olympics, and still holds the world’s best time in the single sculls. He set the mark (6min 30.74sec) at a World Cup event in 2017.


He is joined by Jordan Parry, who was fourth in the event at the world championships in 2022. New Zealand has also qualified a boat for the men’s pair at Paris, with the crew to be nominated, along with the men's reserves, following the World Cup III event in Poland this month.


The rowing competition at Paris 2024 will be contested from July 27-August 3. 


NEW ZEALAND ROWING TEAM


Men’s Single Scull (M1x) - Tom Mackintosh Men’s Double Scull (M2x) - Robbie Manson, Jordan Parry Men’s Coxless Four (M4-) - Matt Macdonald, Tom Murray, Logan Ullrich, Oliver Maclean


Women’s Single Scull (W1x) - Emma Twigg Women’s Double Scull (W2x) - Lucy Spoors, Brooke Francis Women’s Lightweight Double Scull (LW2x) - Jackie Kiddle, Shannon Cox Women’s Coxless Pair (W2-) -Alana Sherman, Kate Haines Women’s Coxless Four (W4-) - Kerri Williams, Davina Waddy, Phoebe Spoors, Jackie Gowler


Stella Clayton-Greene has been named as a travelling reserve, with Ella Cossill, Bella Carter and Kathryn Glen named as non-travelling reserves to the team


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