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Shaun Kirkham,
Olympic Gold Medalist & Motivational Speaker.

I’m Shaun Kirkham, corporate/motivational speaker & Olympic Gold Medalist rower as part of the Kiwi 8 at the Tokyo Olympic Games. With over decade of experience competing as an Olympic athlete, I have learnt many life lessons and understand the power of a united team.

I'm eager to share my story which is riddled with failure, self doubt and learning, which ultimately helped form a team capable of reaching the pinnacle of sport.

These learnings transcend sport and can help any team build momentum and develop a positive team culture. I'm offering corporate speaking, motivational speaking, keynotes and corporate team culture advisory to New Zealand businesses and sporting teams.

Synchronicity, Timing, Work Ethic, Discipline & Team Culture

These are just some of the building blocks of successful teams, and some of the areas i'm particularly interested in when it comes to culture building.

SK Rowing, skrowing, Shaun Kirkham Tokyo Olympic gold medalist sitting in the boat celebrating after winning Olympic final. Rowing mentoring, Corporate speaking, Team culture builder

A bit about me

Age: 29

Height: 191cm

Weight: 97kg

2km erg: 5:45

5km erg: 15:26

30min erg: 9350m

National Titles Won: 20+

Home town: Cambridge

International Titles: Under-23 World Champ Gold x2, Henley Grand Challenge Cup Winner, Olympic Gold Medallist
University Qualifications: Bachelor in Management Leadership, Majoring in Communication and International Management
Work: I run a digital marketing business servicing 30+ clients in NZ
- SK Digital

Alongside my crew-mates: Hamish Bond, Michael Brake, Tom Murray, Tom Mackintosh, Matt Macdonald, Phillip Wilson, Daniel Williamson and cox Sam Bosworth, we won Olympic Gold in the Men’s 8 at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics - breaking a 49 year drought for NZ in the blue ribbon event of rowing.

I was part of the New Zealand 8 in its inception in the modern era back in 2013. We began as an Under-23 representative crew that went on to win two Under-23 world titles in 2013 and 2014. What proceeded was 6 years of pure struggle as we tried to step up to the Olympic standard of rowing. I am the only crew member that remained in the crew from the beginning, right through to that final race in Tokyo.

Here's a snap shot of what we went through...

I won zero races in the Men’s 8 from 2015 - 2019, always in the mix, never at the front. We then failed to qualify the boat for the Olympics in 2019. A world-wide pandemic caused a year long postponement and a long period of training in a damp, dark garage. I then battled tooth and nail for re-selection into the crew after a severe back injury and illness. We travelled to Switzerland 6 weeks before the games to race and qualify the boat for the Olympics. On our return to NZ, we trained solely on the erg/rowing machine in managed isolation for 2 weeks. We travelled to Tokyo and lost the heat at the Olympics, leaving us going through the repercharge to make the final. Finally, we put the pieces together and had the race of our lives to win the Olympic final.

I have been a part of the New Zealand Elite Rowing team for nearly a decade, and in that time I won one singular international pinnacle race, that being the Olympic final. The failures and struggles along the way have shaped who I am as a person and were essential parts of the puzzle that gave the crew and myself the ability to win that final race. 

My story is one of failure, resilience,
self doubt, learning and, ultimately, winning.

Check out my blogs for the inside story

Photo credit to Vera from @artofrowing.nz and Steve from @rowingcelebration. Check out their work!


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