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New Zealand rower Juliette Haigh seeks Olympic gold

Juliette Haigh’s partner will be taking back seat for the next week or so.



JULIETTE HAIGH’S partner will be taking back seat for the next week or so.

Not that he will be complaining, given he will be putting her in exactly the same spot.

Haigh and partner Mahe Drysdale, a five-time world champion sculler, are the glamour couple of the New Zealand Olympic team and will take centre stage during the Olympic regatta on Eton Dorney, west of London.

While admitting it is comforting to have Drysdale as support when they’re in camp together, Haigh said her priority is her partner in the women’s pair, Rebecca Scown.

And that means separate rooms as Haigh and Drysdale go for double Olympic glory.

“We will have dinner together and see each other but obviously my relationship with Rebecca is what matters at this point,” Haigh told Fairfax NZ as the team relaxed at their day house, The Chauntry, near the Buckinghamshire rowing course.

“I find having Mahe here a great support, I think he finds the same thing, so we take confidence from having each other here but know we’ve got a job to do.

“We spend time together but knowing we’re not here for a holiday.”

Haigh has won three world championships, but like her other half, is missing Olympic gold from her collection.

She was fifth in Athens and sixth in Beijing and, again like Drysdale, enters these Olympics as one of the leading two contenders in the field, along with the British pair of Helen Glover and Heather Stanning.

The Kiwis edged them by 0.08s at the world championships in Bled last year but, rather ominously, the Brits have been dominant in 2012, winning both the Lucerne and Munich World Cup regattas..

Since then, the Kiwis have been working on their speed-work in Belgium.

“We obviously have a plan for this regatta and we’re feeling quite good about it,” Haigh said.

“If we have a lot of pressure, then the British have more, having a home Olympics, and they have beaten us twice this season so a lot is riding on their shoulders.

“Of course they also have the support and the excitement of competing at home. When we come past the stands and they’re yelling GB, we’ll just have to imagine they’re saying Kiwi.

“You use the crowd when you want to but sometimes you’re in your own little world at the end there and you’re just throwing everything at it.”

IMAGE: The Olympic rings on Tower Bridge for the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games (By Gonzolito via Wikicommons Media).