Eric Murray and Hamish Bond did everything. 69 races undefeated, two Olympic Gold medals etc. It is probably unprecedented that a New Zealand team has been so dominant for so long.
But it was more than their achievements that made them so good; it was how they put the effort back into their sport.
At this year’s Maadi Cup, where 2,500 school children were present, they set up a Q&A tent for next generation athletes to come and have a chat. Bond and Murray were there, and so completely available. At no time did it look like a chore; they were there to pass on the baton.
These were the sentiments widely circulated on his retirement, but after a week of tributes a few in the NZ media turned on the guy. It was like an official period of grieving had passed, the funeral had been held, so it was time to take the gloves off.
Why did Murray sell out to a Women’s magazine like that? Why wasn’t it a joint announcement, and who knew he was so venal?
Well here’s why.
There is not a lot of money in rowing. Yes, he and Bond got money from High Performance Sport, but it was not remotely anything like what a rugby league captain playing for the Melbourne Storm, or a journeyman cricketer in the IPL would receive.
And it’s nothing like what Richie McCaw would have earned over a career of a similar duration. That’s Richie McCaw who earlier this year sold the rights to his wedding to the same magazine, where helicopters ensured the exclusivity of it all.
If anyone deserves a post career windfall it’s Eric Murray. One of the reasons given for bagging him for this choice was that he and Bond should be seen as a single entity.
But surely any individual has a right to exert that right? Maybe he got sick of his individuality being taken away from him for so long. And Bond can do the same when he eventually decides to retire.
It’s really miserable to deny him that right.
We will remember Murray for his unparalleled levels of achievement. And that ad. “Not that Bondy”.