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Fred Strachan awarded Sir Don Rowlands Medal

  • 21 May 19

The 2019 New Zealand Rowing Association (NZRA) AGM was held on Saturday, 18th May in Wellington.

Rowing NZ Chairman Gerry Dwyer was proud to present Fred Strachan QSM with the Sir Don Rowlands Medal during the AGM's dinner ceremony.

Sir Don Rowlands, KNZM, CBE, AM, is an icon in the sport of rowing, both in New Zealand and internationally.

He represented New Zealand at rowing on many levels, as a rower, manager, selector, NZRA president, board director, life member and vice-patron. He was an integral member of Karapiro Rowing Inc, chairman of the organising committee of the World Rowing Championships at Lake Karapiro 1978, and patron and actively involved in the 2010 World Rowing Championships at Lake Karapiro.

Internationally, he served on FISA, the governing body for world rowing, and was the FISA continental representative for Oceania from 1974 to 1992. He was involved in the construction of rowing courses in many countries.

Sir Don was a former vice-president of the New Zealand Olympic Committee and was awarded the Olympic Order Medal in 1982 and the FISA Distinguished Service Medal in 2009. He was the recipient of two Halberg Awards, for leadership and service to sport.

He was inducted into the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame in 2014 in recognition of his accomplishments in the business sector, and was inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 2016 for his accomplishments in rowing. Sir Don received his knighthood in 2015 for services to sport and business.

The Sir Don Rowlands Medal was created by Rowing NZ in memory of Sir Don, and is awarded in recognition of an outstanding contribution to New Zealand rowing. Consistent with its namesake, the medal is intended to be an iconic award for New Zealand rowing.

Criteria: The award shall be made to an individual(s) who by his or her efforts over an extended period of time has excelled in, promoted or enhanced the sport of rowing in New Zealand to an outstanding degree.

Process: By nomination to the Rowing NZ board with appropriate supporting documentation. The award has no mandatory timeline for presentation, it being awarded when an appropriate recipient is approved by the Rowing NZ board, but not more than annually.

Fred's citation below was prepared by the Otago Rowing Association.

Otago Rowing Association is proud of the achievements Fred Strachan has made in his lifetime of involvement in the sport of rowing, and offers his nomination for consideration for this most prestigious rowing medal.

From humble beginnings in 1944 when he first started rowing at North End Rowing Club, Fred’s career in rowing has taken him down numerous pathways, through many positions and to many parts of the world.

His tenacity and his love of the sport have seen him rewarded with results. He has had many accolades bestowed upon him during his 75 years of involvement at all levels on the local, national and international rowing scene.

Fred was a successful rower at North End and became an Otago provincial rep in 1949, but it is perhaps his prowess as a coach and administrator that has made him stand out from the rest.

At North End Rowing Club he held the positions of secretary in 1949, club captain 1950–54 and 1963–65, and president 1959–62.

He was a delegate on Otago Rowing Association for many years starting in 1950, and was president of the association in 1961–62. He was Otago Rowing Association coaching coordinator from 1998–2002, and was named the association’s Rowing Administrator of the Year in 1991 and 1998 and Coach of the Year in 2003, 2004 and 2005.

Fred was secretary of the Otago Secondary Schools Rowing Association from 1955–69 and chair of that body for many years from 1958. In 1967 he was the Otago representative on the inaugural executive committee of the New Zealand Secondary Schools’ Rowing Association, and continued in that position until 1969. He was secretary of the Dunedin Regatta Club for 15 years and was a member of Canterbury Rowing Association during his time in Christchurch.

His successes during his more than 60 years as a coach are exceptional. He started school coaching with King Edward Technical College in 1952. He has also coached Kaikorai Valley High School, King’s High School, St Andrew’s College and Otago Boys’ High School, as well as North End, Avon and Twizel rowing clubs.

His premier class championship titles for Avon included the men’s coxed pair in 1973, the men’s coxed four in 1974, 1975 and 1976, the men’s eight in 1976, and the men’s coxless four in 1978 and 1979. For North End his premier class championship titles include the men’s coxed four in 1960 and the men’s lightweight eight in 1991.

His coaching successes in other classes at national level have been numerous, as have his successes at New Zealand Secondary Schools’ Championships with the schools he has coached.

Fred coached the New Zealand universities women’s eight in 1997 and was coach of the New Zealand universities lightweight eight from 1998 to 2000.

He obtained his New Zealand Umpire’s Licence No. 3 in 1967 and held a FISA International Umpire’s Licence from 1964–1988. During that time he was juge-arbitre at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and officiated at World Championships in 1970, 1978 and 1981 and at the Olympic Games in 1968, 1972 and 1976, before retiring his licence in 1988 on reaching the age limit of 65.

He was a councillor on New Zealand Amatuer Rowing Association (NZARA) 1972–73, vice-president from 1969–70 and 1980–85, and NZARA president from 1985–90.

Fred was a New Zealand selector from 1962–88 and convenor of that panel for 23 years.

Don Rowlands was on that same selection panel for the first 10 years that Fred was a convener. It was during this period that Fred introduced scientific selection methods for New Zealand crews at the 1967 trials in Wanganui. Ergometer testing, seat racing, somatotyping, and interviews were introduced with the help of the University of Otago School of Physical Education. From then on these became standard practice at trials making a major contribution to New Zealand’s remarkable international success that followed.

He was the New Zealand rowing team manager to the 1970 World Rowing Championships and the 1972 Munich Olympics.

He received his New Zealand Rowing Service Award Blazer in 1979.

As a coach, Fred kept abreast of all the latest developments and advances in coaching techniques and applied them on a daily basis. Rowing NZ acknowledged his coaching ability and temperament when they appointed him to mentor the New Zealand coaches for the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Some of the people he has coached have gone on to represent New Zealand at World Championships, become world champions and competed with success at Olympic Games. Perhaps the greatest of these is Hamish Bond. Fred started coaching Hamish at Otago Boys’ High School and continued at North End before Hamish became a New Zealand representative and continued his most impressive career.

Fred’s life memberships – of North End Rowing Club 1959, Dunedin Regatta Club, Avon Rowing Club, Otago Rowing Association 1961, Otago Secondary Schools’ Rowing Association, South Island Rowing Inc and the New Zealand Rowing Association in 1990 – are testament to the work he put into rowing as a coach and as administrator of those respective bodies.

He is currently patron of Avon Rowing Club and has been vice-patron of Rowing New Zealand since 2015.

The level of esteem in which he is held was evident when he was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal in 1991 for services to rowing. In 1996 he was awarded the Otago Sports Administrator of the Year, and in 2005 he received a Halberg Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding service to the sport. In 2002 he was awarded the Bank of New Zealand Badge of Gold for Services to Rowing.

Otago Rowing Association is proud to nominate Fred Strachan QSM for your consideration. After 75 years’ involvement in rowing and at the tender age of 95, if selected we believe Fred will be a worthy and proud recipient of the Sir Don Rowlands Medal.