It's no longer either oar for Ayling as she calls it quits
After more than six years of being a "nut-case", Louise Ayling is looking forward to some sanity.
The 2010 world championship silver medallist in the women's lightweight single scull has hung up her oars, two years out from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro.
Ayling, who finished third in the B final at the 2012 London Olympics in the lightweight double sculls with crewmate Julia Edward, said she knew it was time to end her career.
"I'm really happy with what I've achieved," said the Invercargill born-and-bred 26-year-old who started her international career in 2008.
"I physically know I'm capable of going through [to Rio] and achieving, but mentally I don't feel like I have that same drive that I used to have.
"I think that to go forward and to be an Olympic champion, or even just to get to the Olympics, you've just got to be an absolute nut-case.
"You have to really, really want it, and be prepared to put everything on the line. I know that there are other people who want it more than me, so it's time for me to go."
Ayling said she thought about retiring last year but didn't want any regrets, so gave it another season before confirming her decision.
She described the life of a full-time professional rower as "incredibly hard - but it can be incredibly satisfying".
"It's a pretty cool lifestyle, but you have to work so hard as well. You're dealing with constantly being tired, constantly being run down, constantly having no energy.
"You can't study fulltime because when you try and read your textbook, all you want to do is fall asleep. You sacrifice family too."
Ayling has split her time between crew boats and the single scull and admitted the solo boat was a gruelling task.
"You have to be very single-minded," she said.
"You have to really want it as there's no-one else in that boat to motivate you. It's especially hard on the days when it's cold, it's windy and wet - it can be pretty lonely."
Ayling said her 2010 silver medal at Lake Karapiro was a highlight but was also "part of the stepping stones for me to get to the Olympics".
"Although that was fantastic for me, it was also just another tick in the box. The following year I was in the double, we had to qualify [for London] and then I had to get selected again."
Ayling and Edward won gold and silver at world cup regattas in 2012, and recorded the fastest time in history for a women's lightweight double sculls race in Lucerne - 6min 49.43sec - which still stands.
She now plans to finish her Business Studies degree, majoring in marketing - without falling asleep at her textbook.
The Southland Times