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Mahe Drysdale confident on Tokyo Olympics prospects

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 7 Feb 2020, 11:44AM
Photo / Photosport

Mahe Drysdale confident on Tokyo Olympics prospects

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 7 Feb 2020, 11:44AM

After last year's rowing World Championships, Mahe Drysdale took some time to ponder his future as an Olympic year approached.

The double-Olympic champion assessed his options and what the year ahead had in store, before deciding to have one last shot at securing the single scull seat for the 2020 Games.

New Zealand rowing rival Robbie Manson held the seat for the past three seasons, but disappointed at last year's World Championships with a seventh-place finish. With Manson selected in the double scull for two World Cup regattas in May, Drysdale will man the single.

The move comes as a big surprise, after the 41-year-old failed to qualify for the men's single scull final at the North Island club championships at Lake Karapiro last month while Manson took out the title. Drysdale later revealed he had been hampered by a minor shoulder injury during the regatta which impacted his performance.

"I made my intentions clear that I wanted to go in the single," Drysdale told the Herald.

"Basically I knew it was going to be touch and go to put the programme in place within a 10-month period, but I was confident I could do it. I've had some time in the single during the last four years and felt like I was making progress every year."

Despite regularly struggling for form in the single scull since the 2016 Games in Brazil, the three-time Olympic medalist admitted he felt like he had been counted out by many for a spot in 2020.

"If you look at the results I don't blame them," he said.

"There's even been some doubts in my mind at times but throughout the last four years I've had enough little glimpses that I'm confident I can perform and get the result for myself and for the country at Tokyo.

"I'm pretty confident in where my training is at at the moment that it's not just a pipe dream. That's something I've always prided myself on in my career – the best I ever am is when we hit those big races – Olympics, World Champs – and unfortunately I haven't had that opportunity in the last four years in the single for various reasons. This is my opportunity now, at the World Cups I've got to prove myself and if I get a run through to that Olympics I'm confident I can go and do it again."

Robbie Manson has held the single scull seat for the last three seasons but will compete in the double for the World Cup regattas in May. Photo / Photosport
Robbie Manson has held the single scull seat for the last three seasons but will compete in the double for the World Cup regattas in May. Photo / Photosport

Before he gets to that point, Drysdale will have to prove to the selectors he is the best option for the Tokyo Games later in the year.

Drysdale has been working alongside the women's double to gauge his improvement and despite some minor injuries slowing his progress down, he said he was happy with the results.

Returning to the water for his first full week of training this week after a minor shoulder niggle, Drysdale said the lead-in to the World Cups, in Italy and Switzerland, would give him a better idea of the targets he needs to hit in order to proven himself as the top candidate for the seat at the Olympics.

"Exactly what that result is, I'm not sure," he said.

"Last year the single was a very tight event, so even if you're in sixth place but two seconds behind the winner I think that would be good enough. It's just about trying to prove that I can be competitive and I'm on a good trajectory towards the Olympics.

"I think I'll keep improving right up to the Olympics."

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