“It’s been a long road and it’s definitely been good to get it finished before heading into the Olympics,” says the three-time world champion and Olympic gold medal hope. “I’m pleased that I chipped away at it, doing one or two papers a semester, and I got there in the end.”
Mr Bond is currently in training camp with the New Zealand rowing team in Cambridge, but says Rowing New Zealand was very supportive of athletes pursuing their education. “Graduations or a close relative’s funeral – they’re about the only things you can weasel your way out of training for,” he jokes.
Training is “pretty much a full-time job at the moment”, says Mr Bond, and the team is currently in its most intense block of training before the Olympics. “I’m on the water five hours per day, six days a week – but things like eating become a job, stretch and physio takes up time, and even resting properly is part of your job.”
With Olympic preparations an all-consuming activity, it was a relief for Mr Bond to complete his final paper during summer school and to concentrate fully on rowing. But taking the afternoon off to attend his graduation ceremony was a welcome break.
“It was great,” he said after the capping ceremony. “It was nice to meet the other students.”
Mr Bond is also grateful for the flexibility offered by Massey University’s distance learning programme, and says it was the only way he could make study and training work.
“I started off at Otago but when I made the New Zealand rowing team I had to relocate to Cambridge. I could have gone to Waikato, I guess, but it would have been too hard to train and try to fit lectures around it. When you are in a crew boat with other people, it’s not like you can train when you’ve got free time. You have to be there at a specific time and lectures get thrown out of the window.
“Distance learning is so much easier than travelling to go to lectures, and now Massey even facilitates you doing exams overseas. It’s all worked out pretty well for me, I’m just glad I persisted.”
While rowing is Mr Bond’s sole focus for the immediate future, he says he is also looking towards his post-rowing life.
“I’m not sure what I want to do yet really, but I have a degree in finance so it will be something in that area to start off with. One of the good things about rowing is that I have made some relatively influential contacts and connections that may help to open doors in the future,” he says.
And is further study on the cards? “Not at this stage. I want to test the waters a wee bit in the real world. But once I know what I’m actually interested in, I might look at more study.”
Bond was one of more than 1000 students to graduate during Massey University’s six Albany campus ceremonies. Graduation ceremonies will take place in Palmerston North and Wellington in May.