Mark Taylor has done plenty of growing and developing since he has left school – but one thing remains entirely unchanged.
The former Waitaki Boys’ High School pupil still has every intention of becoming a world-class international rower.
Taylor (18), a two-time New Zealand junior representative and former Maadi Cup champion, is gearing up for another busy summer on the water.
He has competed in a quad at the last two world junior championships, in Lithuania and the Netherlands, but is too old for next year’s event, so will make a big push for the New Zealand under-23 squad.
Taylor won his Maadi Cup title in the single sculls but hungers to become a regular in the black singlet in one of the bigger boats.
“I’m aiming for the quad,” he told the Oamaru Mail this week.
“That’s the top boat. If I don’t make it, maybe I can do the double as a reserve boat.
“I’m hoping to win the under-20 single sculls at the national champs. That might be a stretch but we’ll see what happens.
“I’m still doing a lot of training in a single. But being in the crew boats is where you want to be, because they are the top boats New Zealand rowing wants.”
Taylor is now based in Christchurch with the Southern RPC but will continue to represent the Oamaru club at regattas.
He said the highlight of his year was the campaign with the New Zealand junior squad. He and his crewmates spent eight weeks in camp at Lake Karapiro, and placed 12th in the world in Lithuania.
Taylor is in his first year studying for a Bachelor of Agriculture at Lincoln University.
He has been living at Lincoln but is this weekend moving to a flat in Christchurch, and plans to keep juggling rowing with study.
“It does get quite tough, balancing fulltime rowing with university. Rowing has been going full steam and university has taken a bit of a beating because of that.
“I’m going to have to look at my options next year to make sure I’m making the right decisions over where I want to go.”
Taylor said the biggest change in his life this year had been getting “weaned off” his supportive parents.
“I’m learning to live on my own and look after myself a bit. I haven’t had much time to work, so my parents are supporting me a bit financially, but I’m looking at changing that over the summer.
“I’m just more aware of the way things work, I suppose. And being in an environment with lots of experienced rowers has given me a bit more perspective as to what you’ve got to do to get there.
“It’s been a really good year. I wouldn’t have changed anything.
“It’s been awesome to meet lots of new people and make really good contacts.
“The best part about university is the life balance it gives you.
“It can bring me back down to earth when I’ve come back from rowing for New Zealand.”