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Hamish Bond and Eric Murray have dominated world rowing for the past three years. Yesterday, they were ranked top of the New Zealand sporting world.
The pair were awarded the Lonsdale Cup for winning the gold medal in the pairs at the London Olympics.
Bond, who confirmed yesterday he and Murray intended to keep rowing, is only the second Otago sportsman to win the award. The other recipient was Olympic swimmer Danyon Loader in 1992 and 1996.
Former Otago athlete Dick Tayler, who won the 10,000m at the Christchurch Commonwealth Games, won the award in 1974. He was registered with the Wellington centre at the time but had spent the previous six years in Dunedin and ran with the Ariki club.
''It was an honour for me and Eric,'' Bond told the Otago Daily Times from Cambridge yesterday.
''It's a who's who of New Zealand sporting history. It's good company to be in and a nice way to finish the year. It's a good cherry on top.''
Bond and Murray have decided to continue in the pair to the next Olympics.
''We have just got to figure out the final nuts and bolts,'' Bond said.
''We have been busy and under the pump with Olympic-related things and Eric had his boxing.
''We will carry on but we have just got to work out what our goals are and the how, what, when and why.''
Sir Eion Edgar has arranged for Bond to do some part-time work at the Forsyth Barr office at Cambridge.
''It will help me to continue my development outside sport,'' Bond said.
''I finished my degree and diploma at the start of the year and this is a good way for me to keep in touch with the outside world.
''You can become self-absorbed in your own wee bubble in sport. It is a good opportunity for me to get an interest outside rowing.''
Bond and Murray were expected to win the Olympic gold medal after being unbeaten on the international scene for the past three years.
They had been challenged by the English pair of Peter Reed and Andrew Triggs-Hodge for the past two years, but Reed and Triggs-Hodge quit the pair to join the Great Britain four that won the gold medal at the Olympics.
The Lonsdale Cup goes to the athlete or team to have made the most outstanding contribution to Olympic or Commonwealth sport in the preceding year.
From an outstanding field including six Olympic gold medal-winning athletes and teams, Bond and Murray were named the winners.
The cup was first presented in 1961 to Murray Halberg. Since then it has been awarded to outstanding New Zealand athletes including John Walker, Peter Snell and Rob Waddell.
Athletes have won the award on 17 occasions and rowers nine times. Shot-putter Valerie Adams has won the award three times and it has been won twice by Loader, Snell, Waddell, Ian Ferguson, Paul MacDonald and Sarah Ulmer.
Bond will spend Christmas at Mt Maunganui with partner Elizabeth Travis, a doctor at Waikato Hospital.
''I will spend a lot of time in the holiday period gardening at my home in Cambridge,'' Bond said.
There was more good news for New Zealand rowing yesterday with the decision of Olympic gold medallist Mahe Drysdale (34) to defend his single sculls title at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Drysdale will take a six-month sabbatical from rowing and will be back in the boat at Lake Karapiro for trials in July to gain selection for the following month's world championships in South Korea.