September 18 - BankLink has agreed to extend its sponsorship of Rowing New Zealand (RNZ) until after the 2012 Olympic Games in London, it has been announced.

Simon Peterson, the chief executive of Rowing New Zealand, said: "As well as being the principal partner [of RNZ] and providing us with important and welcome revenue, BankLink is a fantastic sponsor at an operational level, the staff and stakeholders turning out in force at home or abroad whenever the athletes race.

"In the tough economic times, this announcement is simply fantastic.

"Sponsorship is just getting harder to find and we are in the exceptionally good position that we have a sponsor who has not only stuck with us and increased its support as the relationship has developed, but also a partner who has made real efforts to make the sponsorship work for them as well. It's a great partnership."

Rowing is New Zealand's third most successful Olympic sport.

New Zealand rowers have won 16 medals, including six gold.

Their most recent success came at last year's Olympics in Beijing when twins sisters Caroline Evers-Swindell and Georgina Evers-Swindell won the double sculls, retaining the title they had won in Athens in 2004.

Preparations for London 2012 have started well with New Zealand finishing second overall in the medals table at the World Championships in Poznan earlier this year.

They won five medals, including four gold, to finish second behind Germany.

The World Championships next year are due to be held in New Zealand at Lake Karapiro, near Cambridge.
Richard Reece, the chief operations officer for BankLink, said: "We are very proud of our association with Rowing New Zealand.

"As a Kiwi company competing successfully on the world stage, we feel that BankLink and Rowing New Zealand have a lot in common and we are delighted that our consistent growth has enabled us to extend our support to these fine athletes.

"The benefits of our sponsorship has gone far beyond simple promotion of our brand - it is has been a source on ongoing motivation and enjoyment for our customers, our partners and of course our staff who have really got behind 'our' team."