No chances - NZ rowers impose quarantine
The crack New Zealand rowing squad are taking no chances ahead of the Olympic regatta - if you've arrived in Britain within a 48-hour period, no offence, but they don't want to know you.
In what may or may not be a direct reaction to Mahe Drysdale's mystery illness that scuppered his Beijing campaign in 2008, the Kiwi rowers have put quarantine restrictions on their lone media appearance ahead of the London regatta.
Essentially they want to keep recent travellers away, because of the extra risks of illnesses among those fresh off long-haul flights. It's all part of doing everything they can to keep their athletes healthy ahead of what's being anticipated as a record-breaking regatta.
Rowing NZ high performance manager Alan Cotter said the restrictions were part of normal protocols now in place among international squads, and applied to all people coming in contact with the rowers ahead of major regattas.
“We just don't want them to pick up any bugs in that final week before the Olympics start,” Cotter said. “We do it with everybody that comes in, even other rowers.
“You just don't want to take the risk. It's important on that first day of racing everybody is healthy and rowing their best.”
Cotter said the 26-member squad was in strong shape as they put the finishing touches on preparations. The men's and women's double, the two lightweight doubles and the women's pair have been training in Hazewinkel, Belgium, while the remainder, including Mahe Drysdale and the red-hot men's pair, are in Lucerne.
The squad comes together in London on Monday lunchtime (UK time) and will have their first row at Eton Dorney later that afternoon.
Cotter confirmed Drysdale had quickly returned to full training mode following the Munich mishap on his bike, and was back on course for a strong tilt at gold in London.
“He's back to normal and has been for a few weeks now. He's going OK with the times he's posting so we're pretty happy where he's at and I'm sure he's happy where he's at.”
Cotter said all crews were fit and healthy and were now in speed-work mode with the regatta so close.
“We're certainly happy with what's going on. There were a few niggles at the beginning but everybody is back in boats now and making them go fast.”
Cotter also gave a promising thumbs-up to the two-time world champion double scull of Nathan Cohen and Joe Sullivan who were continuing to make big strides after their initial stumble in Lucerne.
“They've really worked hard,” Cotter said. "They're feeling confident and know they're getting towards their best. The comment made by coach Calvin Ferguson yesterday was that they're certainly looking like they were last year for the world champs.”
The two lightweight doubles, who made such big impressions in the final hitout in Munich, remained in good form, added Cotter.
“They're really sharpening up and posting some good times, and we're pretty chuffed with their progress.”
Among the lesser lights in the Kiwi squad, Cotter singled out the women's double of Anna Reymer and Fi Patterson who were looking to make a timely move ahead of London.
Cotter said Reymer, after a couple of weeks out of the boat, was now looking back near her best.
“They're posting some good times over the shorter distances. They've got the speed there, it's just converting that over 2k which they haven't done so far in those two World Cups. But they're certainly getting there.”
- © Fairfax NZ News
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