Rowing-Triple Olympic great Bond retires after Tokyo glory

(Reuters) - Rower Hamish Bond announced his retirement on Thursday, bringing down the curtain on a glittering career during which he became the first New Zealand man to win gold at three consecutive Olympics.

Bond, 35, who is also an eight-time world champion, said he had known for a while that it was the right time to hang up his oars.

His career culminated in Tokyo six months ago when he led NZ to an exciting victory in the men's eight.

Bond says he considered throwing in the towel before the Tokyo Olympic Games, which were postponed for a year over COVID-19 concerns, but his wife Lizzie kept him in the sport.

"The last few years has been challenging for everyone, not just athletes, and there were times when I seriously considered calling it a day," he said.

"It was taking more and more mental discipline to keep going and I could feel my hunger to punish myself in training waning.

"It was Lizzie who gave me a kick and said 'no, you’re not ending things like this' and I really needed that to keep going and finish my sporting career in the right way."

Bond's first two Olympic golds were achieved in the coxless pair with crewmate Eric Murray in 2012 London and 2016 Rio.

By adding a third gold in Tokyo, Bond cemented his place among the pantheon of NZ Olympians.

"It does feel strange saying that I'm retiring but I feel very fortunate to be walking away while at the top of the sport," said Bond.

I’ve been incredibly privileged to have gone on this journey and my career has far exceeded anything I dared to dream when I was starting out. I never anticipated having the success that followed.

"The obvious pinnacles for me were winning in London, that first Olympic gold medal, and then winning gold with the eight in Tokyo, they're phenomenal memories."

(Reporting by Andrew Both; Editing by Michael Perry)

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