Benedict Tufnell

Dick Tonks returns to rowing to lead Canada to Tokyo 2020

by Benedict Tufnell

New Zealand coach Dick Tonks has accepted the position of Senior Men’s Head Coach for Rowing Canada, it was announced on Monday.

” … one of the most successful coaches of all time.”

The world renowned coach, who won a silver medal at the ’72 Olympics, has led crews to over 30 Olympic and world championship medals over the course of his coaching career. He has also been awarded World Rowing’s coach of the year three times (2005, 2010, 2012) while no other coach has received the honour more than once.

Dick Tonks

“Canada has a strong legacy in rowing and I look forward to helping them write their next chapter” commented Tonks on his new appointment. 

“I am thrilled Dick has chosen to join Rowing Canada’s high-performance program,” said Rowing Canada high-performance director Iain Brambell. “Under his direction and guidance, I am looking forward to seeing the men’s program and the entire team flourish in Tokyo 2020.

” … an exciting moment for Canadian rowing … ”

The 66-year-old had departed Rowing New Zealand in 2015 after falling out with the administration over work he was doing with a crew in China.

He stayed on as coach for single sculler Mahe Drysdale and the women’s double sculls of Eve MacFarlane and Zoe Stevenson, at their request, through to the Rio Olympics, but has since been on a hiatus from rowing.

“This is an exciting moment for Canadian rowing,” said Rowing Canada CEO Terry Dillon. “In bringing Dick Tonks to Canada we create an opportunity for our own coaches to learn and grow alongside one of the most successful coaches of all time.”

Following disappointing performances in Rio 2016, where the team achieved only silver in the women’s lightweight double, Rowing Canada fired the heads of both its men’s and women’s programs.

Tonks joins fellow New Zealander Dave Thompson who joined Rowing Canada last year to lead Rowing Canada’s women’s program.

Tonks will begin his new role with RCA at the end of November at the National Training Centre in Victoria, British Columbia.

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