Honoring Rowing Excellence - Celebration Dinner
The Rowing New Zealand Celebration Dinner took place at the Sir Don Rowlands Centre, Lake Karapiro, on Saturday night. The night honored rowing excellence from the past and present.
Rio Olympic Medalists Gen Behrent, Rebecca Scown, Hamish Bond, Eric Murray, and Mahe Drysdale were presented with their framed Olympic certificates, and retiring Olympic Medalists from 2012 and 2016 were acknowledged.
The Dinner saw the official launch of the Rowing New Zealand Legacy Programme - an initiative created to acknowledge all elite New Zealand rowers who have competed at major regattas. Darcy Hadfield, who won a bronze medal at the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp, Belgium, was awarded Legacy #1. His son, Rex Hadfield, was present to accept the award on behalf of the Hadfield family.
Since Darcy there have been 407 athletes meet the criteria, and become part of the Rowing New Zealand Legacy. To this point the rowers are listed by the year in which they first represented New Zealand, and their seating order within their crew from stern to bow.
Ruby Tew was awarded Legacy #407, and became the most recent athlete in the Legacy program due to her position in the women's eight that raced at the Rio Olympic Games.
The first ever Sir Don Rowlands Medal was awarded at the dinner. The medal recognizes “Outstanding Contribution to New Zealand Rowing”. The medal is intended to be an iconic award of Rowing New Zealand. The award is made to an individual who by their efforts over an extended period of time have excelled in, promoted or enhanced the sport of rowing in New Zealand to an outstanding degree.
The award went to the late Dudley Storey for his incredible contribution to rowing, which spanned over 60 years and saw him succeed as an athlete, high performance coach, manager, and role model for younger athletes.
Dudley's wife, Paula, and daughter, Alison, were there to accept the award on Dudley's behalf.
The final presentation of the night was the Thomas Keller Medal - the highest distinction in the sport of rowing. It recognizes an exceptional international rowing career as well as exemplary sportsmanship and legendary aspect. The award was named after the late President of FISA, Thomas Keller (Thomi).
Georgina Earl and Caroline Meyer (nee Evers-Swindell) were awarded the Thomas Keller Medal in 2016. This was the first time the award had been presented to a New Zealander and the first time since 1999 that it had been awarded to more than one person. Georgina and Caroline are still the only women's double to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals (2004 and 2008), still carry a legacy of being the inspiration for many New Zealanders to take up rowing.
The team at Rowing New Zealand would like to thank everyone who attended the dinner and made it the successful night it was.
Special thanks goes to Rocket Kitchen, Dog Point Wines, and Emmersons Brewery for supplying the delicious desserts, wine, and beer.