25 Mar 2021

Bond and Murray deserve all the praise they get

7:49 am on 25 March 2021

Two Olympic gold medals, seven world titles and an unmatched unbeaten streak lasting eight years and 71 races.

Hamish Bond and Eric Murray on their way to Olympic gold, Rio 2016.


Few could dispute rowing duo Hamish Bond and Eric Murray deserved to be New Zealand's athletes of the decade for the 2010s at the revamped Halberg Awards in Auckland on Wednesday night.

Both acknowledged others would've been equally as deserving, but Murray had a theory on what separated them from the rest.

"What we achieved, it will be really hard to be beaten in history.

"Before we [started, the record] was like 28 races in a row. We've done 69 races in the pair and 71 in total. That number is really difficult for someone to get their head around of what we've done."

With much of the 2020 sporting calendar sidelined by Covid-19, the awards instead recognised the country's biggest sporting achievements between 2010 and 2019.

Every category winner of the last 10 years was in contention to be named a "Decade Champion", with the supreme award going to the best of the best.

In taking out that top gong, the "Kiwi Pair" joined an exclusive list of other decade champions which included the likes of Yvette Corlett, Sir Peter Snell and Sir John Walker.

For Bond, that was something to be proud of.

"To be in the same breath as athletes like that, it is really special.

"New Zealand takes pride in its athletes boxing above their weight and you look at those athletes who have won this award in the past and that's what they epitomise, so to be on that same [level] is special."

The night had also been special for canoe racing star Lisa Carrington, named New Zealand's sportswoman of the decade.

Lisa Carrington.

Lisa Carrington. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The three-time Olympic medallist and 10-time world champion was humbled to win the award ahead of shot putter Dame Valerie Adams and golfer Lydia Ko.

"I mean Val, when I first came here to the awards, she won that year and she was a real hero [of mine] when I was just turning up.

"Then Lydia doing amazing things with golf internationally ... we're in such a awesome time for sport in New Zealand and for woman."

Equally honoured to take home a prize was sportsman of the decade Richie McCaw.

Winner of two Rugby World Cups and a three-time world player of the year, the former All Blacks captain said the award was right up there among his best achievements.

"I've been lucky to pick up some awards in the rugby sphere but within New Zealand to be sportsman of the decade, it's a pretty cool accolade to have.

"We saw how many great athletes that were also nominated and to just have your name mentioned alongside those people is pretty cool, let alone receive the award."

McCaw was quick to give credit to his many team-mates for the part they had played in his winning of an individual award.

Swimmer Sophie Pascoe also mentioned those who had helped her along the way after picking up the para athlete of the decade prize.

The 15-time Paralympic medallist said continually developing her 19-year partnership with coach Roly Crichton had been crucial to success.

"I was very much at the back of the bus and he was driving it to now obviously I'm driving it and he's co driving it with me.

"It changes along the way, obviously age comes with that but maturity and experience and just learning off each other, so we really work on our relationship to make sure that we get the best."

New Zealand's Hamish Bond (R) and New Zealand's Eric Murray celebrate at the end of the Men's Pair final rowing competition at the Lagoa stadium during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 9, 2016.

Eric Murray, left, and Hamish Bond celebrate after winning gold in the men's pair rowing competition. Photo: AFP

The title of best of the best for the decade, though, belonged to Bond and Murray.

The later said they were simply happy to have been part of a decade where much had been achieved in New Zealand sport.

"You look at what's happened over that [period] in different sports and the way that people have developed their sports or been the leaders in their sport.

"You look at people like Sophie Pascoe and what she's done for Paralympic sports, for woman sports. When you start breaking down what happened in this last decade, it's amazing."

Carrington's coach Gordon Walker collected the coaches award, while fans voted the come-from-behind gold for rowers Joseph Sullivan and Nathan Cohen at the 2012 London Olympics the sporting moment of the decade.