By Duncan Mackay

Rob Waddell head and shouldersDecember 15 - Olympic rowing gold medallist Rob Waddell has been appointed as New Zealand's new Chef de Mission for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. 

The 37-year-old Waddell, who won gold in the single sculls at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, replaces the now retired Dave Currie, who attracted criticism at the London Olympics over his team management.

He was chosen ahead of Hamish Carter, the Athens 2004 triathlon gold medallist.

"It's a unique position and I'm honoured to have been appointed," said Waddell.

"I've been to three Olympic Games and experienced them not just as a successful gold medal winner but also as a wide-eyed first-timer and again as an athlete struggling to meet expectations.

"That broad perspective will help better understand our top athletes."

Currie drew criticism at London 2012 after several competitors, including Olympic shot put champion Valerie Adams, were not officially entered in their respective events due to an administration error.

Waddell, who overcame a heart condition that caused an irregular heartbeat to win gold in Sydney, has been involved with New Zealand's America's Cup challenge since 2001.

He made a return to rowing in 2008, combining with Nathan Cohen to finish fourth in the double sculls at the Beijing Olympics, before he returned to the America's Cup setup.

His new role will not conflict with New Zealand's America's Cup campaign next year.

"Rob has what it takes to make sure the environment is right for athletes to achieve at Olympic Games," New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) secretary general Kereyn Smith said.

"He knows sport and the needs of elite athletes, is highly respected and sets a clear standard of excellence."

Currie had held the role since Sydney 2000 and, despite the criticism, oversaw New Zealand's best-ever performance at a non-boycotted Olympics in London.

Dave Currie at London 2012Rob Waddell is replacing Dave Currie, who is retiring having been New Zealand's Chef de Mission since Sydney 2000

The team finished 15th overall with a total of 13 medals, including six gold.

"I'm really looking forward to talking to Dave," said Waddell.

"He's been a massive part of New Zealand sport of the last 10 years.

"Obviously, there were some issues there but so much of it went so well and I'd really like to learn from him.

"I feel privileged to come into a team which has gone really well in London.

"I feel immensely proud and I want to help our athletes be the best they can be."

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