A Queenstown rower hopes four years at a prestigious American university will help him win selection for the 2016 Olympics.
Ben Lynton, 20, has been accepted for a four-year mechanical engineering degree at Harvard, which he’ll undertake alongside training at its elite rowing institute.
Lynton, who attended Queenstown Primary and did a year at Wakatipu High, says his rowing prowess helped him get in to Harvard, where he’ll start in September.
“Because I’ve got quite good rowing results that helped me over someone who might just spend the rest of their lives in a basement on the computer.”
Those results include a gold medal with the New Zealand eight at the world junior champs in Holland, in 2006. He followed that up with a silver the next year in China.
Lynton, who left Wakatipu High for Christ’s College in Christchurch and has been more recently based in the Waikato, claims Rowing NZ frowns on athletes training out of the country.
“So when I come back I’m going to have to work my arse off to get my name out there.
“But I’d be an idiot to turn down an education like Harvard’s got to offer.”
Lynton will have more than 90 per cent of Harvard’s annual $US56,000 fees waived.
“They flew me over in December for an interview and showed me all the facilities – for rowing, there’s nothing more you could want.”
These include two indoor flumes, more than 40 rowing machines, “awesome boats and a wicked river to train on”.
He’ll mostly train once daily apart from a two-month build-up to the American nationals in June.
“In the NZ system they bludgeon their rowers to death twice a day.”
At Harvard, Lynton says they’re not allowed to train on the water during December and January out of fairness to students from other universities who can’t get on rivers that are frozen over at that time.
At 1.96cm, Lynton says he uses his height to his advantage.
“It gives me the opportunity to work on my technique rather than just brute power.”
For the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Lynton would like to crew for an eight.
“But I’ve probably got the best chance in the pairs or the fours. I’m just confident I’ll come back [from Harvard] mentally and physically tougher.
“It’s the best university in the world – you can’t beat that.”