The local government of Otsu, Japan and its greater administrative division Shiga Prefecture invited Shaun Kirkham, 7 seat of the New Zealand Men’s Eight, and Justin Evans, performance analyst, as a part of their Olympic legacy project.

Kirkham says “We have very fond memories from the camp we had here. I feel this is very important part of our Olympic journey. Friendship is always a priority for us Kiwis. While we were here, we would see many rowers on the lake cheering us, but due to the COVID19 protocols, we never had the chance to shake hands and talk with local people. So this is the opportunity to share our experience and show our gratuity on behalf of whole New Zealand Rowing Team.”

Evans, one of the people who made the decision to have the camp on Lake Biwa continues, “Lake Biwa was the perfect camp location for us. A big body of water with a long rowable stretch secured the quality of the training, and the moderately populated Otsu City made our life easier. The final preparation phase and its environment were very important for us to perform well in Tokyo. It is obvious the tremendous support from people here and culture of local rowing community played the key roles to perform very well on Sea Forest Waterway.”

Hiroshi Sugito, former Japanese national athlete/coach recalls “When I first reported the candidate camp sites upon Rowing NZL’s request, Lake Biwa was not on the top of the list. But Justin Evans and his colleagues picked it as the top. They made us notice the benefit we always enjoy and be proud of our home water.”

Kirkham and Evans spent 10 days visiting local rowing crews, presenting to school kids what they learned through their experience, conducted special lectures to researchers and students of sport science, and visited with various municipality chiefs. “It is great to see peoples’ happy faces having us. I would like to let them know how this gold medal relied on them. This is the way how sport and Olympism can contribute our global society.” Kirkham says.