Rio among lures for talented brothers

JOHN ALEXANDER
Last updated 14:12 14/02/2013
Karl Manson
Scott Hammond

Shooting for the stars: Marlborough’s Manson brothers, Karl, left and Robbie, chilling out at the Central RPC training camp at Lake Rotoiti yesterday

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Rowing together at the Rio Olympic Games is the ultimate aim for Marlborough brothers Robbie and Karl Manson, but for now just making the New Zealand team is their goal.

Robbie, from the Wairau Rowing Club, rowed in the men's quad which won the B final at last year's Olympics in London and he's already won a world title, the under-23 double scull with current Olympic champion Joseph Sullivan from Picton.

A year later in 2010 he rowed that same event with his younger brother, Karl, and finished fifth.

Both were in camp at Lake Rotoiti this week with the Central Region Performance Centre squad which is based at Wairau, and they are two very determined young men. Karl competes out of the Blenheim Rowing Club. He's gunning for elite selection this year and his chances of making it are significantly increased by finally shaking off the debilitating effects of glandular fever.

"I've been making improvements over the last month and I'm going a lot faster, which is quite exciting. I took a while to get back into training last year but I'm well over the glandular fever now."

He learnt a good lesson during his illness, the main part of which only lasted a month. However, in trying to come back too soon, other complications set in and he had most of 2011 off trying to recover.

Recover he did and a sixth placing at the World under-23 champs with fellow Central RPC team-mate Joe Wright showed he was back on track. A fourth in the single scull at last weekend's North Island regatta in the elite field was another encouraging sign of his improving form.

"Hopefully I can make the elites this year if I do well at the trials. I'm in a reasonable position at present but you can never be certain [of selection]."

For Robbie, it's been a challenge getting back to where he was fitness-wise heading into the Olympics, but he showed last weekend in winning the North Island single scull title that he's ready to trial well following next week's nationals.

"The fitness is definitely there. I more than ever want to go to the Rio Olympics and be really competitive. I feel like I'm in a place now where I can be competitive because I know what's required. It's different at the Olympics. Bigger crowds, you are in the spotlight much more and you are aware it's the Olympics."

Both obviously want to perform well at next week's nationals at Lake Ruataniwha in Twizel with Robbie defending the double scull title with Sullivan and the quadruple scull with Sullivan, Wright and Steve Cottle and Karl is in a variety of events.

Robbie said: "The nationals is quite competitive and it's a cool way to break up training and get bragging rights against fellow New Zealand squad members."

With Robbie at 23 and Karl 21, their rowing future is an exciting one. With their steely determination to succeed on the world's biggest stage, their natural talent and their outstanding work ethic, it would be a brave person to bet against them rowing together at elite level well before the Rio Olympics in 2016.

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- The Marlborough Express

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