Rob Waddell

Olympic Gold Medalist in Rowing, member of Emirates Team New Zealand Sailing Crew and is our Chef de Mission for upcoming Olympic and Commonwealth Games.

In 1995 he burst onto the New Zealand rowing scene as the youngest person ever to win the single sculls title at the New Zealand Championships – he did this as a novice sculler. In the two years that followed, Rob won gold at the World Championships in Germany and Canada breaking records on the water. His rowing career was topped off with an Olympic Gold at Sydney 2000.

Rob has been a key part of three Americas Cup sailing teams since 2002, culminating in the nail biting performance that Emirates Team New Zealand produced in the final of the 2013 Americas Cup.

Rob was the first recipient to win the Supreme Halberg Sportsperson of the Year Award for three consecutive years, a feat only shared by one other person.

It's these stellar performances and his personal attributes that led to his selection as Chef de Mission of the New Zealand Olympic team.  This leadership role will see Rob responsible for setting standards of excellence, overseeing the planning and preparation of the games management teams and ensuring the athletes and their NSOs have what they need to achieve within the complex Olympic and Commonwealth Games.

In a less public arena, Rob has a number of other interests including a business degree with Honours and is co-owner/manager for his own thoroughbred agistment business in Cambridge that he runs with his wife Sonia who is a past Olympic rower. Rob and Sonia are also devoted parents to their three children.

Rob has given generously of his time to two charitable trusts – he is former chair of the Home of Cycling trust which is a $30 Million national sporting centre in the Waikato as well as being a trustee for Te Awa – a significant regional cycle way alongside the Waikato river.

Rob attributes his motivation and work ethic to his country upbringing in Piopio where his playground included the steep hills of the family sheep and cattle farm, to his selection for the local Roller Mills Rugby team and later a homemade gym in his father’s woolshed.

Rob is an excellent role model who has clearly demonstrated the benefits of applying his management and planning skills and what can be achieved through preparation, training and determination.


  • Inspiration / Motivation
  • Leadership
  • Sport