Oliver’s oarsome: First 2020 baby

Stephen and Anna Jones with their precious new year baby, Oliver.

Cambridge Olympian Stephen Jones and his wife Anna kicked off the year with the unexpectedly early arrival of their firstborn child, Oliver Anthony Jones.

Little Oliver, who right now sports considerably more hair than his rowing champion dad, entered the world at Waikato Hospital at 10.35am on New Year’s Day, weighing 3459g (7lb 10oz)  (3.459kg). He was Cambridge’s first baby for 2020.

His January 1 arrival was eight days ahead of schedule and put paid to any Hogmanay celebrations on the part of either his parents or Cambridge midwife Juliet Dagnall.

Anna was admitted to hospital on New Year’s Eve after her waters broke.  “We were quite happy with the early start … we quickly got used to the idea that he was going to arrive on either the 31st or the 1st,” she said, looking surprisingly relaxed as her five-day-old son nestled into her.

While names had obviously been discussed throughout the pregnancy, it was only as she was prepped for delivery that they finally settled on Oliver. “I said to Anna, ‘look, this baby will be here very soon, perhaps we should finalise his name’,” said Stephen.

Olympic oarsman Stephen Jones cradles his newborn son, Oliver.

‘Oliver’ was a good fit for his childhood, they thought, but also offered a touch of gravitas for his future professional life. Anna suspects there might be a little kick-back, however.   “I played the lead in a school production of Oliver Twist,” she laughed.  “My friends are likely to think that’s why we named him Oliver.”

The elated new parents, who both hail from Auckland but who have lived here for a couple of years, are putting the finishing touches to a new house overlooking Lake Karapiro, one they will share with Anna’s parents, Murray and Pip Irwin.

They’re headed into a super-busy year. Stephen, a Rio Olympian who rows with the men’s eight squad seeking to secure a spot at the Tokyo Olympics, is back into full training.  He rows for several hours a day and will travel with the squad to Lucerne for the qualifying regatta. Assuming they make it into the Olympics, there will be even more travel, which means he will be spending several six-to-seven-week slabs of time away from home.  Anna will remain in Cambridge.

“Looking at Oliver now, I know just how much I’m going to miss him,” Stephen said. “At least we’ll be able to face-time each other … I won’t lose track of him completely.  But it will be tough.”

Anna, who is sales manager at the Mainfreight in Hamilton, is taking a few months’ maternity leave to enjoy baby Oliver before easing back into the workforce, while Stephen, in between his sporting commitments, new parenthood, and finishing off the house, is continuing his studies to become a pilot.

It’s a gruelling schedule, but as he cradled baby Oliver on his chest with Anna looking on, it’s clear where their priorities lie.

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