Famous New Zealanders

Rob Waddell

  • Born 7 January 1975 in Te Kuiti.
  • Grew up on a King Country dairy farm, and went to King's College in Auckland, where rowing was a sport with a strong tradition. Was tall and gangly but when his body filled out and he proved to the rowing coach how big a weight he could pull, he soon joined the school's first rowing eight.
  • As a 17 year-old he made the New Zealand junior crew, and was asked to row in the colts (under 23s), but refused as he had a 10 month-long scholarship to Japan.
  • During his year in Japan (1992) he learned Japanese and judo (eventually won his black belt).
  • 1993-97 studied Management Studies at Waikato University, and continued to row, training for two hours in the morning even during the summer holidays when working on the family farm.
  • In 1993 began experiencing problems with an irregular heartbeat but the exact problem was not diagnosed until two years later. In the meantime he turned to single sculling so that his condition would not cause problems for the rest of the crew.
  • In 1994 had competed in the coxed pair at the world championships, and the coxless fours in 1995. With the move to the single scull, and new medication, he won a place in the New Zealand Olympic team in 1996 at Atlanta where he was seventh.
  • In 1997 won the Australian single title, and was third in the World Cup.
  • Won the world championship in 1998 and 1999, as well as the world indoor title in a record time, and the World Cup single sculls title.
  • Married Sonia Scown, also a single sculler, in 1998.
  • Was the first person to win the Halberg Award as New Zealand's Sportsperson of the Year three years in a row, in 1998, 1999 and 2000.
  • Won a gold medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
  • Has worked as an internet website designer.
  • In 2001 was awarded the ONZM (Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit) for his services to rowing.
  • In February 2001 joined Team New Zealand as a grinder in the sailing team's 2003 America's Cup defence.
  • Plans to return to rowing and represent New Zealand at the 2004 Olympic Games in 2004.
  • Currently a member of the Athletes Commission of the New Zealand Olympic Committee, representing other New Zealand Olympic and Commonwealth Games athletes.
  • Height: 2.00 m
  • Weight: 97 kg