15 Dec 2017

Olympic gold-medallist rowing cox Simon Dickie dies

5:21 am on 15 December 2017

Double Olympic gold-medallist rowing coxswain Simon Dickie has died in Taupō, aged 66.

Simon Dickie and and fellow Olympic rower Mahe Drysdale.

Simon Dickie and and fellow Olympic rower Mahe Drysdale. Photo: Photosport

Mr Dickie was part of New Zealand's first gold-winning rowing crew, coxing for the four which took gold at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico.

He was just 17 years of age at the time.

He followed that up in 1972 as part of the coxed eight, which won gold in Munich.

He also won a bronze medal at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.

One of Mr Dickie's crewmates from 1972, Athol Earl, said he was the ultimate cox.

"He was an extrovert, very intelligent, sharp and perceptive - and confident in his abilities as a coxswain, because he was probably the best in the world. Actually, no 'probably' about it: he was."

Rowing was a sport which cultivated strong bonds between its crew, and Mr Dickie was an astute motivator and cunning psychologist who knew instinctively how to motivate the various characters aboard his boat.

"Simon was your ears and eyes out of the boat. He's telling you what's happened where, he alters the race strategy slightly if he needs to.

"For instance in Munich he told us we'd dropped below 39 [strokes per minute], which was quite a high racing beat, when we hadn't. But he told us that to keep us on that number," he said.

The New Zealand Rowing team on the dais at the Munich Olympics.

The New Zealand Rowing team on the dais at the Munich Olympics. Photo: Supplied:NZOC

"I've never come across a coxswain like it, actually. Simon had the ability to draw it out of you as a crew member.

"Everyone was so different - John Hunter, for instance, didn't need much but the occasional pat on the head, where as some of us needed a bit more demanding, and he had the ability to do that from his seat down the stern of the boat."

The 1972 crew was close and still kept in touch.

"We were planning our reunion for the Halberg Awards over the last few days, a lot of emails about getting together and doing things before you get too old."

"He was a larrikin, but such a gentleman with it. He was exceptional."

He was a involved ventures into the kiwifruit business, and he also set up his own adventure park business in Taupō.