Pregnancy & Birth

Hamish Bond’s Olympic dash home for the birth of his second child

With a stroke of luck, the gold medal winning rower just made it to the birth of baby Phoebe.
Hamish Bond baby Phoebe

Olympic rower Hamish Bond is used to cutting things fine. After all, the Cambridge-based sports star won gold alongside Eric Murray in Rio with just three seconds to spare. So when it came to the birth of his second child Phoebe earlier this year, Hamish didn’t seem too worried about almost missing it!

“When Phoebe was born, I was only in the country three or four days beforehand, and then 10 days afterwards I went back overseas,” explains the 33-year-old.

Hamish’s wife Lizzie, 31, adds with a chuckle, “We had a short window around her due date in between two overseas regattas he was competing in. He came home when I was 39 weeks’ pregnant, so it all worked out well!”

While the birth went smoothly and the two-time Olympic gold medallist was able to spend a blissful week with his newborn, Hamish admits it was hard saying goodbye to baby Phoebe and his 20-month-old daughter Imogen.

Meet Phoebe Bond

Born: June 21, 2019

Weight: 3.68kg

“I’ve been lucky Lizzie’s done the bulk of the heavy lifting, especially since Phoebe’s been born and I’ve been trying to train full-time,” he tells. “I love being a dad and how your time spent with your children is really shaping them for the long run. Hopefully you’re doing a good job and they turn out to be decent human beings.”

Adorable wee Phoebe’s the spitting image of her famous dad, with piercing blue eyes and soft blonde locks. But her July arrival comes on top of an already busy year for Hamish. After taking a break from rowing in 2016, he took up cycling and at his first Commonwealth Games, he claimed bronze in the road cycling’s time trial.

But when it came to choosing between the bike or the boat to pursue the 2020 Olympics, Hamish made a bold decision to return to the water.

“I certainly had a sense of coming home when I first got back in the boat,” he smiles. “Even though I hadn’t rowed for two-and-a-half years, immediately there was just this feeling that I knew what I was doing.”

Golden guys Hamish and Eric on their last victorious Olympic campaign in Rio, 2016. Image: Getty

Hamish was then drawn to the idea of competing in the men’s eight – a team that hasn’t won gold since the 1972 Munich Olympics.

“I looked at the various boat classes that I could be part of and the men’s eight was the only thing that excited me in terms of training towards the Olympics,” he admits.

“It’s probably the one boat where historically New Zealand has had a lot of success, but in the last 20 years or so, when we’ve had a really good run of success, we just haven’t quite been able to crack the Olympics. That was part of my motivation – I wanted to challenge myself.”

Adjusting to being a father of two while managing his hectic training schedule has been a challenge for the Dunedin-born athlete.

“I was surprised that it was like one plus one equals three – it almost multiplied in terms of the input!” he laughs.

“I’ve always tried to optimise every part of our daily lives for rowing. But I’ve relaxed that to a degree with the inclusion of children. There’s no real option, to be honest. It’s just that balancing act of trying to make the most of every little part of your life without being too crazy and turning into a complete sort of hermit.”

As if on cue, livewire Imogen runs squealing into the room. Looking at the smiley youngster, Hamish recalls one of the many discussions he had while training with longtime partner Eric Murray. During his eight-year unbeaten run, Hamish didn’t have kids to worry about while his buddy Eric, 37, had his young son Zac.

Hamish recalls, “In my view, training and rowing was my priority, whereas in his life at that particular time his son and family were perhaps his first priority and rowing was second.

“At times, we’d clash over that and he used to say to me, ‘One day you’ll understand and know what it’s like.’ I wouldn’t disagree with him, but I suppose I’d have to now eat a little bit of humble pie and say there was an element of truth to what he was saying.”

For his wife of four years, it’s been a challenge, but one she’s been happy to take on.

“I just want Hamish to be happy and satisfied with what he’s doing, whether it’s rowing or cycling,” insists Lizzie, who is currently on maternity leave from her job as a doctor at Waikato Hospital.

“It’s going to be an ongoing challenge for us but we’ve managed pretty well so far. He’s not around a lot, but when he is, he’s a very hands-on dad.”

While his spot at the Olympics hasn’t been confirmed yet – he’ll have to wait for their last race in May next year – one thing’s for sure, his family will be alongside him every step of the way.

Lizzie smiles, “It will be a big undertaking travelling with the kids, but if he does qualify, then we wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

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