The coach of New Zealand’s Olympic rowing women’s eight is confident in the crew’s ability to win a medal in Rio later this year.
“We’re expecting to go and a) make the final and b) get a medal,” coach Dave Thompson told Te Waha Nui.
Mr Thompson is currently looking for speed gains but is confident in the women’s capabilities and said they “get on well”.
Among the optimism he is well aware of the progress within other crews too. “So far we’re tracking well, but so is the competition,” said Mr Thompson.
This is the first time New Zealand has sent a women’s eight boat to the Olympics. It is also the largest rowing contingent going to the games with 31 squad members.
Mr Thompson said he believes the success of the women’s Olympic qualification has given young female rowers something to aim for.
“It’s a nice stepping stone from [the New Zealand] Juniors and under-22 [squads]. There’s now belief that we can produce an elite [eight] boat," said Mr Thompson.
The head rowing coach at Auckland's Diocesan School for Girls, Rachel Arbuckle, said it’s particularly exciting for girls in the sport because “they can see an eight [rowing future] past school level, which we haven’t had in New Zealand for a long time”.
“Usually every year after an Olympics there’s quite a peak in rowing for the intake at school so [the number of] new kids we get in this summer should be quite large.”
The school had a 52-strong squad this season and Ms Arbuckle would like to see that increase to 60 next season.
Ms Arbuckle would love to see the New Zealand women get a podium finish in Rio.
“That would be pretty cool [but] who knows, it’s the Olympics.”