An 18-strong rowing team has been named to represent New Zealand at the Paris  Olympics next month.

 

Nine of the squad are either world championship winners or Olympic medalists.

Tokyo Olympic champion Emma Twigg will be racing in her fifth Olympics and will be the first New Zealand rower to achieve the milestone.

“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,” says 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.”

The experience she’d gained from 20 years at the top of her sport would be invaluable in what will be the 37-year-old's last campaign on flat water.

“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.”

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single sculler emma twigg after being officially selected for her fifth Olympics 

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 from Tokyo, where she won gold in the Women’s Pair and silver in the Women’s Eight.

“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 that eight from Tokyo and won a world championship in the boat in 2019.

Phoebe Spoors and Waddy were travelling reserves in Tokyo. Now they get to race for the first time at an Olympics.

“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.”

Like Williams and Gowler, Waddy had other sporting ambitions back then.

“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, Spoors and her sister Lucy all began their rowing there.

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The women's four of Kerri Williams,  Jackie Gowler, Davina Waddy and Phoebe Spoors racing at 2024 World Rowing Cup II back in May. Photo: Art Of Rowing.

Lucy 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, Francis won silver in the Women’s Double.

Both athletes took time out after Tokyo to start families and only returned to international competition last year, finishing fifth at the world championships.

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The women's double of Lucy Spoors and Brooke Francis with their children (Rupert and Keira) after being selected for the Paris Olympics 2024. 

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. She is also a world champion in Coastal Rowing, which has been included 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.

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The women's lightweight double of Shannon Cox and Jackie Kiddle after receiving their silver medal at 2024 World Rowing Cup II back in May. Photo: Art Of Rowing.

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,” says 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.”

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The women's pair of Alana Sherman and Kate Haines at the Paris Olympics 2024 announcement. 

The men’s squad includes Tokyo gold medalists Matt Macdonald and Tom Murray, who will row the Coxless Four with Ollie Maclean and Logan Ullrich.

Maclean was a reserve in Tokyo, 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.”

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The men's four of Olllie Maclean, Matt Macdonald, Logan Ullrich and Tom Murray, after receiving their silver medal at 2024 World Rowing Cup II back in May. Photo: Art Of Rowing.

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. He won gold with the Men’s Eight at Tokyo.

Being picked for any Olympics was a real honour.

“It’s just as amazing as last time,” said Mackintosh. “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.”

Rowing the single sculls posed new challenges.

“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.”

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Men's single sculler Tom Mackintosh racing at the 2024 World Rowing Cup II back in May. Photo: Art Of Rowing.

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.

Jordan Parry was fourth in the event at the world championships in 2022.

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Men's double scullers Robbie Manson and Jordan Parry racing at the 2024 World Rowing Cup II back in May. Photo: Art Of Rowing.

NZOC CEO Nicki Nicol congratulated the athletes on their achievements.

"We're thrilled to be taking an exciting and experienced rowing team to Paris," said Nicol.

"New Zealand has a proud rowing history at the Olympic Games and we look forward to watching these athletes add to that legacy next month in Paris."

 

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

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

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Andy Hay

Andy Hay is a freelance producer, writer and rowing coach. He was cox of the world champion New Zealand eight of 1982 and '83. He is NZ Olympian #446.