Grace Prendergast OLY

Rowing

Grace Prendergast began rowing for Villa Maria College out of Avon Rowing Club in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2007. She made her first New Zealand team as part of the junior women’s four in 2010. This crew went on to win gold at the World Rowing Junior Championships in Racice, Czech Republic.

Grace went through the Rowing Performance Centre system with Southern. She competed at U23 level in the four in 2012, and was part of the elite women’s eight that placed 7th in 2013. After a grueling summer sculling regime under Dick Tonks, Grace found herself in the pair with Kerri Gowler at the New Zealand team trials in 2014.

The duo instantly formed a fast combination and went on to win gold at the World Rowing U23 Championships in a new World Rowing U23 Championship best time (later beaten in 2019). Just weeks after their U23 campaign they were selected to be part of the women’s four at the elite World Rowing Championships in Amsterdam. The four produced a phenomenal race, winning by over six seconds, destroying the previous world-best time and setting a new marker at 6:14.36 that still stands today.

Grace went on to help qualify two boats for the 2016 Olympic Games, rowing in both the eight and pair at the 2015 World Rowing Championships and picking up two silver medals in the process. A Rio 4th place in the women’s eight left her hungry for more and in 2017 she and Kerri, under the coaching guidance of Gary Hay, went through the season unbeaten, set a new world-best time and became World Champions in Sarasota. In 2018 the pair finished a close second behind Canada, and they were out for revenge in 2019.

Changes came in 2019 for Grace when she was selected into both the women’s pair and the women’s eight for the international season. However, she stuck to the pair at World Rowing Cup III where she and Kerri won the gold medal. Outside of this regatta, they raced in the eight as well as the pair at Henley and World Rowing Cup III to prepare for the double at the World Rowing Championships. Grace was in scintillating form at the World Rowing Championships in 2019, winning gold in both the women’s pair and the eight. It was the first time New Zealand had won the women’s eight in the history of the World Rowing Championship regatta.

Grace then went on to become a two-time Olympic medalist winning gold in the women’s pair and silver in the eight at Tokyo 2020. Grace and boatmate Kerri Gowler set the tone early in Tokyo, recording a world record to win their semi-final in 6m 47.41s. The following day the pair looked a cut above, winning New Zealand’s first gold medal of the Tokyo Olympic Games in a time of 6:50.19s. And Grace wasn’t done there, the next day jumping in the eight where the New Zealanders finished second, to claim silver behind Canada.

Following the Olympics Grace completed her Masters at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom where she rowed for the Cambridge University Boat Club in the 2022 Cambridge vs Oxford Boat race coming away with a win. Following a year of training in the United Kingdom and attending University she rejoined Kerri in the pair at World Rowing Cup III in Lucerne, Switzerland, winning a Gold Medal. Coached by Mike Rodger, the duo will compete in the women’s pair at the World Rowing Championships in Racice.

Grace has also completed a Bachelor of Business Studies and a Masters of Business Studies from Massey University.

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