Olympian Rower George Bridgewater has had a very eventful 5 years, characterised by achievements and attaining long held goals, his most recent is being presented an MNZM for his services to Rowing by the Queen a few months ago.
As a rower representing his country he came a close 4th at the Athens Olympics in the men’s coxless pair (with Nathan Twaddle) and a Podium finish at Beijing with a Bronze medal.
In October last year he achieved a childhood dream by becoming a student at the oldest university in the English-speaking world – the dreaming spires of Oxford. While not neglecting his studies, he trained hard to gain an Oxford Blue and it was a highlight to complete a demanding year by being part of the winning team of the Oxford v Cambridge University Boat Race in March.
George is only the second New Zealander (the last was in 1934) to gain an Oxford Blue and earn the right to be one of the eight in the hotly contested Great Boat race and the first Kiwi to be part of the winning team. The illustrious 180 year old event is steeped in tradition attracting 120 million viewers across 180 countries and the crew enjoy a celebrity status in England. Combining gruelling training for the race with the highest academic requirements, George faced a daunting task but emerged last month with a Master of Business Administration degree (passing with Distinction). The education didn’t stop at the lecture theatre doors and expanded to include access to the usually closed doors of some of the most elite gentlemen’s clubs in Oxford and London.
After years of being a relative failure through school and a classic overweight couch potato George remembers precisely the point that turned his life around allowing him to grasp the opportunities perceived by many as unattainable. Laughed at for not being able to do push ups as a teenager, the last straw was when he was mocked by his younger brother who scoffed when George said he could one day row for New Zealand at the Olympic Games. Galvanised into action to prove his brother wrong, four years later he was racing in the black stripe at the Athens Olympic Games with his brother there cheering him on.
Through personal experience he understands many of the difficulties faced by under motivated teenagers and now has a very focused attitude to achievement by assuming maximum personal responsibility. He is passionate about, and active in, developing the habits and desire to be the best that lead to his own success and he is determined to give something back and help to build a stronger future by helping to motivate the youth of New Zealand.
From the age of 18, George began to finance his amateur rowing career through speaking engagements at schools and ultimately as a sought-after lunch and after dinner speaker. He’s attracted and developed partnerships with a variety of corporate and business supporters and has maintained a very professional approach and cultivated loyalty in his supporters. Ultimately he developed a standalone business to cover many of the expenses associated with devoting himself to elite level sport. Through the many lessons learnt from being at the top of his chosen sport and the perspective he’s gained about the human psyche under significant duress, George knows through his own sweat and experience how much effort it takes to maintain focus through times of difficulty and doubt and to ultimately emerge on top. His examples as a role model and as a motivational speaker have been very well received with audiences in NZ and overseas.
George has returned to New Zealand for the summer before beginning a business career in London early next year and is available for speaking engagements.