Former gold medalist Rob Waddell steps down as Olympic Games chef de mission


Toru Hanai / Getty Images

New Zealand Olympic Committee chef de mission Rob Waddel attends a press conference ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. Waddell is now retiring.

Former Olympic rowing champion Rob Waddell has stepped down as chef de mission for the New Zealand Olympic Committee, sparking a nationwide search for a replacement for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Waddell – a single scull gold medalist at the 2000 Sydney Olympics – held the position for eight years.

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Chef de Mission Rob Waddell said the main goal is to bring athletes to and from the Games safely.

The three-time Olympian led New Zealand to two Olympic Games (Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020) and two Commonwealth Games (Glasgow 2014 and Gold Coast 2018).

Waddell, 46, said he was looking to spend more time with his family, but it was “a real privilege and honor to have had the confidence to lead our Olympic and Commonwealth Games teams.”

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Rānui Ngārimu, Ngāi Tahu, Master Weaver (L) and Chef de Mission Rob Waddell during the New Zealand team's farewell ...

Dave Rowland / Getty Images

Rānui Ngārimu, Ngāi Tahu, master weaver (left) and chef de mission Rob Waddell during the New Zealand team’s farewell ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

“I have especially enjoyed working with the athletes and the wider team to create such a unique New Zealand team environment, it’s something we are all very proud to be a part of, and I am truly delighted. of what we have accomplished from Glasgow to Tokyo.

“I loved my time in the role and I will miss it, but now I look forward to spending some more time with my family and contributing to our community in other ways.”

A masked Rob Waddell in Tokyo.

Toru Hanai / Getty Images

A masked Rob Waddell in Tokyo.

NZOC chief executive Kereyn Smith, who is also stepping down, said Waddell had been an exceptional chef de mission and would be missed by athletes and sports.

“Rob was absolutely a champion for and on behalf of the New Zealand athletes and team. I would like to express immense gratitude to Rob for the work he has done to help make these Games campaigns one of our most successful, ”said Smith.

“Rob has been extremely committed to the New Zealand team and has always gone above and beyond, often under difficult circumstances, to create an environment that allows New Zealand’s elite athletes to perform at their peak.

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“Especially in Rio, despite difficult conditions, he made sure that the Olympic Village was up to the task when the athletes of the New Zealand team arrived. “

“Most recently in Tokyo, Rob helped oversee our detailed team planning, which kept our athletes and support team safe, while also securing our biggest medal harvest ever. . “

Smith said the NZOC “had known for some time that Tokyo would be its last campaign in the role.”

“It leaves great shoes to fill, but we can’t wait to name a great successor. “

David Nyika thumbs up after becoming New Zealand's first Olympic boxing medalist since David Tua in 1992.

JOHN COWPLAND / PHOTOSPORT

David Nyika thumbs up after becoming New Zealand’s first Olympic boxing medalist since David Tua in 1992.

Tokyo 2020 Te Pou Hapai Tane (male flag bearer) David Nyika also paid tribute to Waddell.

“Rob would do anything under the sun for us athletes. I feel so blessed to have shared three gaming experiences with Rob and to have learned so much from his unconditional dedication to excellence. He is the pillar that our athletes aspire to be.

A new head of mission should be appointed before the end of October.

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Naomi C. Amerson