Just six weeks ago Gary Hay was wrapping up a successful campaign with the Kiwi women’s rowers in Tokyo, now he’s back in his hometown of Christchurch eyeing up another campaign – this time with Rangi Ruru Girls’ High School.
Hay, who won two silver medals in Tokyo (in the women's pair and eight), has taken up the head coaching role at the all girls’ school as they embark to retain the prestigious Levin Cup at Maadi, as well as the title of top secondary school they won at the 2021 National Championships.
“It’s good to back where it all started for me, and great to back at the grassroots as they say,” Hay said.
Rangi Ruru’s currently got an 83 strong-squad, high numbers in part due to New Zealand Rowing’s success at the recent Olympics.
Hay said he’s hugely excited for what this group may achieve.
“It’s hugely rewarding to see them at the beginning of their rowing careers… and already with just a couple of rowing machine sessions and what I saw out there today, there are definitely some prospects for future Olympics,” he said.
It’s not lost on the rowers how lucky they are have to have secured one of the world’s top coaches.
“Most of the squad were in their classrooms watching the Olympians race and we were all like 'oh my God that’s our coach',” Phoebe Wallis said.
Her sister, Alice, also a rower said they all "can’t quite believe it" and that it’s "still so surreal".