Donaldson gets nod as NZ rowing coach

The coach who guided Australia's `Oarsome Foursome' to back-to-back Olympic gold is jumping ship to join Rowing New Zealand's elite coaching team.

Noel Donaldson, former head coach of Rowing Australia, will take up the men's sweep lead coach from Dick Tonks, who stepped down from the role after the London Olympics.

Tonks coached men's pair Hamish Bond and Eric Murray and sculler Mahe Drysdale to gold in London.

He is now overseeing RNZ's women's program.

Donaldson, 57, mentored Australia to successive Olympic gold medals in the men's coxless four in Barcelona in 1992 and Atlanta four years later.

RNZ's high performance manager Alan Cotter said: "Noel is going to be a huge asset for Rowing New Zealand. He has a wealth of rowing experience in various coaching roles, including being part of multiple medal-winning teams at world championships and Olympic Games.

"We were looking for someone who had achieved results as a head coach in sweep oar boats, had worked successfully in a high performance program, had the ability to develop, lead and maintain a strong team culture - and Noel has all of these attributes," said Cotter.

Donaldson will arrive in New Zealand in time for national trials to select a team to compete at the World Cup in Sydney in March.

Aside from overseeing the `Oarsome Foursome' he coached Australia's coxless pair to bronze in Sydney in 2000 and as head coach guided the Australian squad to one gold, one silver and one bronze medal in Athens four years later.

Tonks, named coach of the year for a fourth time at the Halberg Awards this month, also oversaw Rob Waddell's single sculls gold in Sydney and double Olympic gold medallists Georgina and Caroline Evers-Swindell in the double sculls.

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