Cambridge’s Stephen Jones was introduced to rowing at school.
The now two-time Olympian, who was part of the New Zealand team for almost a decade before retiring last year, says credit for that largely lies with one of his teachers who encouraged him to shift from coxswain to row.
Jones shared his story last week when Olympic athletes and administrators gathered in Cambridge to celebrate the completion of one of three homes which will be sold to raise funds for the 2024 New Zealand Paris Olympic team.
The homes are being built in Christchurch, Cambridge and Wānaka as part of a deal involving Jennian Homes and profits from sales will go to the Olympic team.
Jones, now 30, took up rowing at 14 and represented New Zealand in 2011 as part of the junior men’s quad.
His first Olympic campaign was Rio in 2016 as part of the men’s eight crew which made the finals – followed by the Covid-impacted Tokyo 2020 games in 2021.
He thought about heading to next year’s Olympics, but decided the timing was right to retire to spend more time with his wife Anna and young family.
The Cambridge home was unveiled after a yearlong build. It will be initially open to community groups and organisations through
a partnership with Cycling New Zealand.
It is opposite the Grassroots Trust Velodrome.
The Christchurch home sold recently – the sale price has not been posted yet, but a house next door is valued at just over $900,000.
Jones was at the unveiling of the Cambridge home alongside fellow former New Zealand Olympian, track and road cyclist Alison Shanks.
“The Olympic community is a close-knit one, it is absolutely inspiring being around other athletes who are also at the top of their respective sports,” he said.
“Imagine the future Olympic dreams which could be sparked within these four walls,” Shanks added.
About 200 New Zealand Olympic athletes are headed to Paris next year, making up an international field of more than 10,000 athletes from more than 200 nations which will compete in more than 30 sports.