Risk-assessing Bridgewater takes chance on rowing gold

Wed Mar 9, 2016 2:12am EST
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By Greg Stutchbury

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Life as an equities trader had its attractions for New Zealand Olympic rower George Bridgewater.

Financial security for his young family, the 'excitement' of trading and living in exotic climes like Hong Kong and Singapore, both far removed from the sleepy town of Cambridge, where New Zealand's high performance rowing program is based.

Yet a sense of unfinished business impelled him to chuck it all in to return to New Zealand, live "like a Spartan" and get yelled at by coaches all day, every day, as he attempted to make his country's high-powered rowing team for the Rio Olympics.

"Why would a banker quit to come back to try do something that is completely uncertain?" the 33-year-old laughed during a telephone interview with Reuters.

"I had these questions nagging at me ever since I left. I felt that I hadn't achieved what I could in rowing and in particular, Olympic rowing."

Bridgewater had walked away from the sport following a bronze medal-winning row with Nathan Twaddle in the men's pair at Beijing, having won three world championship medals, including gold in 2005.

He then completed an MBA at Oxford University, where he was part of the 2009 Boat Race-winning crew against Cambridge, before he ended up working for financial services firm Morgan Stanley, initially in Hong Kong then Singapore.

His willingness to move to Asia -- one reason being it was "closer to home" -- had been a calculated risk, given he graduated during the depth of the global financial crisis and he found the work as a flow trader in equities "fairly exciting".   Continued...

Nathan Twaddle (L) and George Bridgewater of New Zealand competes during the men's pair semifinal rowing competition at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in Shunyi Rowing-Canoeing Park August 13, 2008.     REUTERS/Aly Song