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Unbeaten New Zealand pair Hamish Bond, Eric Murray say there's more to come at London Olympics

07/25/2012 06:15 EDT | Updated 09/24/2012 05:12 EDT
WINDSOR, England - They compare themselves with the All Blacks of rugby fame, and are among the most dominant crews in world rowing thanks to their unbeaten three-year streak.

Still, New Zealand pair Hamish Bond and Eric Murray aren't fully satisfied heading into the London Olympics.

Murray says they've produced some fast races "but I don't think we have showed how fast we can actually be."

For their rivals at Dorney Lake, that's a scary thought.

Bond and Murray were part of the New Zealand four that finished seventh at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, then decided to switch to the pair.

The results have been sensational.

They haven't lost in 14 World Cup or world championship finals and such has been the ease of their victories since 2009 that they are comfortably New Zealand's best hope of a gold medal in London.

Their closest challengers, Pete Reed and Andrew Triggs Hodge of Britain, were so disillusioned at finishing second to Bond and Murray that they decided in April to join the British four crew for the Olympics.

"We put the most expectations on ourselves," said Murray, who last year set a world record on an indoor rowing machine. "We'll be the most disappointed if things don't go the way that we want them to.

"But that's what happens when you are successful. The All Blacks have expectations on them every week. You've got to win, got to win, got to win."

It's even got to the stage where their coach, Richard Tonks, has dispensed with any dramatic pre-race pep talks.

"You watch on TV and you saw (former New Zealand rugby coach) Graham Henry go into the changing rooms and he's telling the boys what to do and this and that," Murray said. "But Richard, he just stands there, and we sit there and look at him. He's looking at us. Still waiting. And then he goes, "Ah well, go on the water and do what you've always done.'

"And that's pretty much our pep-talk."

The "kiwipair," as they are known on Twitter, lead arguably New Zealand's finest ever squad of rowers into the London Games.

The country has never won multiple rowing gold medals at an Olympics. But with Mahe Drysdale among the favourites in the single sculls, the lightweight double sculls (Peter Taylor and Storm Uru) performing impressively in the World Cup regattas and Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan back to form in the double sculls, that could change.

There are also medal chances in the women's squad through the women's lightweight double sculls (Louise Ayling and Julia Edward), the women's pair (two-time world champions Juliette Haigh and Rebecca Scown), and Emma Twigg in the single sculls.

"Rowing has historically been a popular and successful sport in New Zealand," said Bond, speaking in glorious sunshine in the garden of the plush, mock-Tudor house the Kiwis are renting two kilometres from Dorney Lake. "We had a bit of a lean patch and it went away but come 2000, Rob Waddell won the Olympics in Sydney and then we had the Evers-Swindell twins who won in '04 and '08.

"Everyone used them as a benchmark. We have multiple people here who are in world champion crews and have the capability to go far. It's been an evolution and I guess we've been lucky there are some naturally talented people in there as well."

None seem to be more talented, or dominant, as Bond and Murray.

They are refusing to say whether they will still be together after London — "I think the marriage is getting a little bit stale, but he hasn't cheated on my yet," Murray joked.

"I think we have surpassed all our expectations," Murray said. "But we're not quite there yet."

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