Track Cycling

Hamish Bond admits to questioning heart for cycling after shock return to rowing – Stuff.co.nz


GETTY IMAGES

Hamish Bond on his way to the national 4000m individual pursuit gold medal at the national championships in Cambridge in February.

The two-time Olympic champion will return to competing in the boat after leaving behind his promising cycling career, which started after he and Eric Murray won gold in rowing’s men’s pair event at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Since jumping on the bike, Bond has won plenty of accolades, including national titles and a bronze medal in the road time trial at last year’s Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

GETTY IMAGES

Eric Murray and Hamish Bond with their Olympic gold medals in Rio.

But his omission from New Zealand’s team for this month’s track cycling world championships in Poland stung.

READ MORE:
Bond every right to be sore over cycling snub
Rowing great Bond ‘irked’ by cycling omission
Bond lone Kiwi on list of world’s fittest athletes
Bond takes out first national track cycling title

The 33-year-old from Dunedin, who set a new national record in the 4000m individual pursuit in last month’s national championships in Cambridge, said his sporting career had reached a “crossroads” and that he was faced with a “now or never” decision between cycling and rowing. 

“I had the chance to take a step back and reflect on what I’ve done in cycling and what the process would be over the next 15 months moving forward,” Bond told Stuff.

“I really started to think ‘this could be my last opportunity to get to the Olympics’, or to compete on the big stage.

“And, if it is the last thing I do in sport, what would I regret not doing? Or what do I want to do the most?”

Bond said he considered which environment he would prefer as he weighed up his training regime towards the Tokyo Olympics.

“Your heart has to be in the right place to really commit to something like that and perhaps it wasn’t [with cycling].

“What day to day training and environment was I going to enjoy the most? I thought the [rowing] eight.”

LAWRENCE SMITH/STUFF

Hamish Bond at the Halberg Awards last month.

Bond said he came to the conclusion that he wanted to “have a crack” at becoming part of the men’s rowing eight, something he and Murray had always wanted to attempt.

The champion pair went unbeaten in 69 elite rowing events, including their Olympic gold medals in London and Rio, and Bond has been weighing up what he thinks is his best chance of competing again at the next Olympics in Tokyo.

Bond said he “went deep down the rabbit hole” as his cycling career, which started on the road before he switched to track events, went from strength to strength, admitting it all initially started because he wanted to have a break from rowing.

“One thing led to another and the seed was planted in my head that maybe Tokyo was an option. 

“Looking at what I was going to have to do to crack the team pursuit, Cycling New Zealand had given me every assurance that I was going to get that shot.

“I’m sure I would have but you only get that shot at one time. I guess it was a crossroads and I had to commit to one or the other.”

ROBYN EDIE/STUFF

Hamish Bond, in red, racing on the Tour of Southland last year.

Bond said he remains on “pretty good terms” with Cycling NZ after telling Stuff last month he was “irked” by their decision to not select anyone for the individual pursuit, the event in which Bond set a record time of 4mins 12.436secs at the national championships in Cambridge.

“I was obviously disappointed by that decision. I was pleased with what I was able to do in nationals,” he added.

“I felt I was on good terms with all the coaches and the athletes were incredibly open and encouraging for what I was trying to achieve.”

In a statement, Interim Cycling NZ CEO Jacques Landry praised Bond for his unprecedented efforts in switching from an Olympic rower to an Olympic cyclist.

“We fully understand and accept his motivation to switch back to rowing and wish him every success. Cycling is losing a great athlete but rowing is re-gaining one,” Landry said.

“Although his presence was short lived, we greatly appreciate what Hamish has contributed to the sport of cycling in New Zealand.”

Bond said it was still to be determined what his next training programme would entail, based on how quickly he could get back up to speed with rowing.

Stuff