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want to mediate in
the crisis which is
gold medal charge
in Rio next year.
Stanley, a world championship winning
rower, is offering to step in to repair
the damage between legendary coach
Dick Tonks and Rowing New Zealand.
Stanley, a former RNZ chief executive,
told Radio Sport ’s Martin Devlin that
professional sport had gone beyond the
point where it could accept a repeat of
the bizarre Arthur Lydiard situation at
the 1960 Rome Olympics.
The great Lydiard had to coach from
an unofficial position even though
the three stars — Peter Snell, Murray
Halberg and Barry Magee — were his
Stanley said: “Dick appears
quite unequivocal there...but my
understanding is there is reconsideration
of the position and I really hope that will
“ We are keen to see if something can
be worked out so Dick remains available
to the athletes he is coaching.
“Certainly we would and I’ve offered
to (RNZ chief executive) Simon
Peterson and rowing that if the Olympic
committee can help in any way as an
intermediary we would be happy to.”
Stanley indicated there might be more
at stake than simply the desire that
Tonks remain coaching Mahe Drysdale
and the women’s double.
“ We (the Olympic team) must must
live together in harmony in a very high
pressure environment, with consistency
of the rules and ways of doing things
and RNZ has its own requirements
as well,” he said. “I guess all of us live
within those systems and have to
especially when a programme gets large.
The rowing New Zealand programme
is world leading ... and requires certain
disciplines to be maintained.”
Stanley said the Olympic committee
was guided by the individual sports on
Olympic team make-up. He could not
recall a sport being vetoed from above.
Meanwhile another of New Zealand ’s
rowing stars Hamish Bond — who
dominates the coxless pairs alongside
Eric Murray — gave some backing
to RNZ’s position. Bond and Murray
were guided by Tonks to the 2012
Olympic gold but have been coached by
Australian Noel Donaldson since.
“I only found out yesterday and don’t
know any other details — it ’s nothing
to do with Eric and I (but) I back New
Zealand Rowing in its decision making,”
On Tonks’ relationship with his rowers,
Bond said: “I don’t think that ’s worth
getting into at this point. You don’t
have to get on necessarily for it to be a
successful relationship or partnership
although it certainly helps or makes it
easier. It is the same with rowers. You
don’t need to get on with who you row
with but it generally makes life easier.
Obviously this will be disruptive for the
crews he coaches individually.’’
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Olympic champion Mahe
Drysdale says Dick Tonks will
remain his coach despite Tonks’ split
with Rowing New Zealand.
Drysdale says a compromise would
enable Tonks to get the necessary
credentials for the Rio Olympics
He described Tonks as the
architect of New Zealand’s rowing
success, and the man the other
coaches still followed.
The single sculls legend, who
also has five world championship
victories and an Olympic bronze
medal on his CV, has not officially
been told that Tonks had “finished ”
with RNZ over a dispute involving
his coaching of a Chinese crew.
The 37-year-old Drysdale told
Radio Sport: “I guess I hope my
relationship with Dick hasn’t
ended whatever the case may be.
That would be very sad. I guess
I’ll hopefully find out some more
detail in next day or so. I don’t
know what ’s between them — from
my perspective my preference is
that Dick takes me through to the
Olympics. That ’s in my plan and
exactly what I’m working on at this
stage. Until that changes Dick will
be my coach.
“There’s a process going on.
Hopefully for everyone it all works
out...obviously me and the women’s
double (world champions Zoe
Stevenson and Eve Macfarlane)
are the most affected by this. Both
of us certainly don’t want to change
anything eight months out from the
On the Crowd Goes Wild, he
told Andrew Mulligan and Simon
Doull that it was commonplace for
overseas crews to train at Karapiro
and these new influences were even
beneficial to the New Zealand
“I’m not privy to all the details.
It ’s no secret there’s been a bit of
a strained relationship (between
Tonks and RNZ).
“In this case, Rowing New Zealand
didn’t give permission...(but) it has
blown up pretty quickly,” he said.
Drysdale said that a coaching
change may have been more
acceptable further out from the
Olympics, but with only eight
months left it was an unnecessary
risk for two of New Zealand’s best
gold medal prospects.
“And you are also talking about
New Zealand’s most successful
Olympic coach ever,” he said.
“Losing Dick is a massive thing
and I will be fighting to make sure
that doesn’t happen. Change can be
successful but it ’s a risk...if there was
nothing to lose okay but I’m very
much in a position to win (the gold
“I’m sure (Olympic access) could
be negotiated. That ’s what we’ve
got to negotiate with rowing — can
Dick Tonks still coach Mahe and
the New Zealand double without
being part of the RNZ coaching
Drysdale described Tonks is “not
someone who would change his
“But I still believe he wants
to coach me and the women’s
double,” Drysdale said, who has
been coached by Tonks for nine of
the past 11 years.”He’s certainly a
unique character...he’s not an easy
person to get on with. He pushes
you to your limits...I have absolutely
100% trust in him.
“He’s got five Olympic gold
medals that he’s coached. No matter
how hard it is you do what he tells
you to because it is your best shot
at winning an Olympic gold medal.
— New Zealand Herald
Drysdale wants Tonks to stay
Olympic bosses offer to
mediate Rowing NZ crisis
New Zealand rowing coach Dick Tonks.
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