As a seasoned and celebrated Olympic athlete, Hamish Bond always thought that travelling with bikes and boats was hard. Then he had a baby.
"There's so much stuff!" the new dad exclaims to Woman's Day. "We have a station wagon and it can't fit everything we need for a trip away. Going away with bikes is a nightmare, but now I know the only thing worse is travelling with bikes and a baby."
Many things have changed for the double gold medal-winning rower turned cyclist since he and wife Lizzie, 30, a doctor at Waikato Hospital, welcomed gorgeous Imogen Rose Bond in March this year.
There's the baby paraphernalia scattered around their cosy Cambridge home, the trips out of the house having to be carefully time-managed and the fact the star athlete can no longer be guaranteed a good night's sleep. But it's all worth it for the couple, who couldn't wait to welcome their precious bub into the world.
"She was much wanted," Lizzie smiles. "Our lives are so busy – me with my work and Hamish with his training. It was hard to find a period where we were both going to be around and able to put some time into the baby, so we found a window in our schedules and aimed for that."
The pair chose to find out the gender of their baby, though Hamish, 32, admits he was "50/50 for a long time – you just don't get that many big surprises in life!" – and asked their doctor to write down if it was a boy or girl and pop the answer in an envelope, which they opened at dinner.
"I'm glad we did that in the end," nods Lizzie. "I was so convinced we were having a boy, so it was a bit of a surprise to me! It took me a week or two to get my head around it, so it was like I got excited for a second time."
After a "pretty normal" pregnancy with just a touch of nausea at the beginning, Lizzie, who worked up until she was 36 weeks along, saw her due date come and go. Though she's a doctor herself, Lizzie admits she was a bit disappointed, especially as she and Hamish were on a tight time frame.
"You spend nine months building up to this date and even though I knew hardly any babies come on their actual due date, I still had a hope she'd be early as Hamish needed to get to Australia for training before the Commonwealth Games in April."
On March 1, she and Hamish finally met their precious daughter.
"It was just bizarre, really," recalls Hamish. "The reality of the situation hits you – I always knew there was something inside her tummy, but then all of a sudden, there's an actual human."
"It was amazing," Lizzie agrees. "She was put on my chest and I was like, 'Woah! This is real – she's mine.'"
For Hamish, fatherhood proved to be a real eye-opener, especially as his experience with children was minimal.
"I'd actively avoided baby interaction," he laughs. "I don't know why – well, maybe because I didn't want to make a mistake with someone else's baby. Not that I want to make a mistake with mine! But she was just so small and delicate to me, despite the fact she was a perfectly healthy 3.5kg! Fortunately, she has a bit more meat on her bones now."
Hamish and Lizzie have had the added challenge of taking Imogen overseas to see her father in action, and happily, she's proving to be a remarkably content little girl.
"She had been to three different countries by the time she was three months old," smiles Hamish. "It took me 18 years just to leave the country!"
"She had her passport photo taken when she was just a week old," adds Lizzie.
And though she'll never remember being on the Gold Coast to see Dad win a bronze medal in the men's time trial – just over a year since officially switching from rowing to cycling – with any luck, she might recall the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020, which is Hamish's next goal.
Wherever he goes, however, Hamish is hoping Imogen will prove to be his little lucky charm and he admits he can't help but think about her future – though he's not sure if it will include a boat or a bike! Rather, his dreams are a little more short-term.
"I'm just looking forward to the day she talks," he laughs.
"I envisage being able to rationalise with her because it's very hard to rationalise with a baby! I have this idea we could have discussions together. But I think I'm going to be waiting a little longer than I thought!"
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