Richard Tonks

Richard has been involved in rowing since he was 13. He started rowing under his father’s coaching eye from the Union Rowing Club in Wanganui, and was a silver medallist in the 1972 Munich Olympics as stroke of the men’s four at the age of 19. He became full time head coach of the New Zealand team in 2000 after the Sydney Olympic Games.
Richard, New Zealand’s acclaimed head rowing coach, was selected by FISA, the International Rowing Federation, as the 2005 FISA Coach of the Year. He coached the New Zealand team to a record breaking four gold medals at the world Rowing Championships, when the women’s doubles, women’s pairs, men’s pairs and men’s single sculls all topped the podium on the same day on 3 September 2005 in Gifu, Japan.

In addition to that year’s World Championship titles, Richard coached the Evers-Swindell sisters to their Olympic gold medal in Athens in 2004 and to World Championship golds in 2003 and 2002. He was also the coach behind Rob Waddell’s Sydney Olympic medal in 200 as well as his two World Championship titles in 1998 and 1999. He can also lay claim to other World Championship gold, silver and bronze winners including Philippa Baker and Brenda Lawson’s World Championship gold in the women’s double sculls in 1994. Now his focus is on getting New Zealand rowing through to the 2008 Olympics – especially qualifying year in 2007.

Richard has a reputation for avoiding the limelight and downplaying his achievements. When asked if a celebratory drink was toasted last night on winning world rowing’s top coaching prize, the master coach had a simple response “It was just myself and the wife... we just carried on as normal”.

His theme remains simplicity “We just get the oars and the boats and get in the water and work. We don’t have any meetings. But it’s also about enjoyment – that has to happen

Richard, named Halberg coach of the year in February, said the award reflected the success of New Zealand’s world class rowers rather than his massive contribution to the sport “We have class athletes who can compete at the worlds and we have some new ones training on the lake now. “They’re the ones who do all the hard work, I don’t. When you look at them standing there with their hands shaking because they’re so sore and are just raw skin, it’s hard to take the credit for it.”

Richard himself remains a fitness fanatic, still training actively in the gym, on a bike or in his single scull.



• Goal setting
• Motivation
• Team building