Goodbye Bond

New Zealand's Triple Olympic Champion Hamish Bond retires from rowing.

2 minute read
Words Tom Ransley
Photography Benedict Tufnell
Published 27.01.22

Hamish Bond, 35, has announced his retirement from rowing. At Tokyo 2020 Bond secured legendary status by winning the men’s eights, and his third Olympic gold medal. His first two were in the men’s pair with Eric Murray. He is the first New Zealand man to win gold at three consecutive Olympics. A tough journey made tougher by Covid and the Olympic postponement, but the support of his wife, Lizzie Travis, saw Bond push through.

Photo Hamish Bond celebrates at Tokyo 2020 after winning his third Olympic gold.
Credit Steve MacArthur

“The last few years has been challenging for everyone, not just athletes, and there were times when I seriously considered calling it a day,” says Bond. “It was taking more and more mental discipline to keep going and I could feel my hunger to punish myself in training waning. It was Lizzie who gave me a kick and said ‘No, you’re not ending things like this’ and I really needed that to keep going and finish my sporting career in the right way.”

Bond’s phenonmenal haul of rowing accolades include eight world titles, two world best times (in the coxed and coxless men’s pair), an unbeaten streak of 69 international races, and multiple indoor World Records. In the 2013 New Year Honours List Bond was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to rowing, and in 2018 he was awarded the Thomas Keller Medal for his outstanding contribution to rowing as a competitor and as a sports personality. Bond also has considerable swag from his time on a bike. He was crowned New Zealand’s cycling national champion three-time and won a bronze medal in the time trial at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

“It was special,” Bond tells Stuff, the New Zealand news site, of his cycling palmarès. “I guess I traded off my reputation as a rower to a certain extent and was afforded opportunities with that. To get to where I did in cycling in a short space of time, I never intended that when first starting with it after Rio. It was going to be a thing for a few months and have a go at the national champs.

Photo Tokyo 2020 NZL M8+ win gold.
Credit Steve MacArthur

“One thing led to another and to get the opportunity to represent New Zealand in a different sport at the World Champs and Commonwealth Games and come away with a medal, it was an itch I wanted to scratch. I don’t regret it one bit, taking that opportunity to see if I gave some time to cycling, how good could I be? I didn’t reach the absolute ceiling, but I got a fair idea of where it was.”

Since Tokyo 2020 Bond has continued to while reflecting on his athletic career. After mulling over his options Bond decided to call time on his sport and hang up his oar.

“It does feel strange saying that I’m retiring but I feel very fortunate to be walking away while at the top of the sport,” says Bond. “I’ve been incredibly privileged to have gone on this journey and my career has far exceeded anything I dared to dream when I was starting out. I never anticipated having the success that followed. The obvious pinnacles for me were winning in London, that first Olympic gold medal, and then winning gold with the eight in Tokyo – they’re phenomenal memories.”

Photo Tokyo 2020 NZL M8+ on the podium with their Olympic gold medals.
Credit Steve MacArthur