Halberg success 'blows my mind' - Bond

Hamish Bond and Eric Murray. Photo by The New Zealand Herald.
Hamish Bond and Eric Murray. Photo by The New Zealand Herald.
Otago rower Hamish Bond played down his achievements in accepting the supreme Halberg Award alongside New Zealand men's pair partner Eric Murray in Auckland last night.

To be a finalist against the ''esteemed'' Mahe Drysdale (sportsman of the year), Valerie Adams (sportswoman of the year) and Sophie Pascoe (disabled sportsperson of the year) was an honour, Bond said.

''It blows my mind. I didn't start rowing to win awards like this. I started because I loved it. To be honest, because I wanted to be Jeff Wilson.''

Bond said the ''phenomenal'' achievements of fellow finalists made it all the more special to win the supreme award, which he added to his four world titles and Olympic gold medal.

He and Murray also won last night's team award, and their coach Richard Tonks won coach of the year for his efforts with the pair, and with Drysdale.

Other finalists in the team category were fellow Olympic gold medal-winning rowers Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan, the All Blacks, and two Olympic yachting crews, Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie, and Peter Burling and Blair Tuke.

Accepting the team award earlier, Bond said elite sport was a ''generally selfish pursuit'' and he thanked his partner, Lizzie Travis, as well as the pair's sponsors, Rowing New Zealand, High Performance Sport New Zealand and all their supporters.

''Usually, Eric does the talking, but I'll say this award means a lot to Eric and I. Coming back to New Zealand, it's been a realisation how much sport does impact on the country, especially the Olympics.

''Rio - it's a long way off but we'll get there,'' he said of the 2016 Olympic Games.

Bond follows in the large footsteps of some great athletes from, or with strong links to, Otago.

Cricketer Bert Sutcliffe (1949, the first year of the awards), athlete Yvette Williams (1950 and 1952), Gary Robertson (as part of the rowing eight in 1971 and 1972), cricketer Glenn Turner (1973), runner Dick Tayler (1974) and swimmer Danyon Loader (1996) all won the supreme award.

A product of Otago Boys' High School, Bond no longer lives in Otago but still wears the colours of his Dunedin club, North End.

He and Murray, unbeaten since 2009, stormed to victory in the pairs at the London Olympics, a year after being named world rowing's greatest crew.

They were named New Zealand team of the year in 2010. Both were also part of the New Zealand four that won the award in 2009.

Dunedin fashion was also a winner at last night's Halberg Awards, as finalists Sarah Walker and Lisa Carrington both wore dresses by Tanya Carlson.

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