17 Dec 2015

Rowing NZ 'been trying to get rid of me' - Tonks

8:46 am on 17 December 2015

Top rowing coach Dick Tonks says Rowing New Zealand has been trying to get rid of him for a long time and the organisation does not like people who stand up to them.

Tonks coached reigning Olympic champion and five time world single sculls champion Mahe Drysdale until last week.

He has enjoyed unparalleled success at Olympic and world championship levels, with other rowers including Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell, Hamish Bond and Eric Murray and Rob Waddell.

Single sculls silver medallist Mahe Drysdale is confident he's on course for Rio Olympic success.

Reigning Olympic and world champion Mahe Drysdale. Photo: Photosport

However Rowing New Zealand has terminated his contract because he has been coaching a Chinese crew which Rowing NZ said was unacceptable.

Tonks said his role had been scaled back over the past few years.

"They want to get rid of me. They've been trying for ages. They've downgraded me right through, they've undermined me cut me off it's just been ongoing," said Tonks.

New Zealand rowing coach Dick Tonks.

Dick Tonks Photo: PHOTOSPORT

"This was just a chance to get rid of me. They don't like people who stand up (to them). They want to control everything. They want to control people. They're a petty minded little management team."

Tonks, 64, said he had previously coached overseas crews without it being a problem, but he could not see himself at the Rio Olympics coaching Drysdale.

"I always knew it would and rowing coaches have notoriously been turned over. I've managed to survive since 1994 so I've done all right."

Rowing NZ chief executive Simon Peterson spent much of yesterday in talks with Drysdale's manager, who was acting as an intermediary, and those talks will continue today

"Coaching four Chinese representative rowers at the same time as being on contract with Rowing New Zealand coaching our top crews was not acceptable to our board and management," he said.

"Dick Tonks made a decision to go with the Chinese, we asked him to stay with the New Zealand crews.

"He made a decision to go with the Chinese but with the interests of Mahe being an Olympic champion we are doing everything we can to retain Dick's coaching services."

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