Mahe Drysdale offers no excuses for loss
World championship single scull silver medallist Mahe Drysdale was routed in an upset on the final day at the New Zealand rowing championships, but refused to blame it on a back injury.
An in-form Nathan Cohen, the world double scull champion, proved too tough for Drysdale, roaring down the Lake Ruataniwha course to take the national single title in impressive style.
To start with, racing was close, but with 500m to go, Cohen put the pressure on and went away by two lengths from Drysdale, with lightweight rower Peter Taylor third.
In the conditions, Cohen rowed a smart time of 7:03.97, winning by 7.46 seconds.
A delighted Cohen took home the prestigious Sir Bernard Freyberg Cup and admitted he had been trying to win the single title for seven years.
"It is certainly a dream come true," he beamed.
Cohen said he was relaxed going into the final and rowed his own race, not concerned what Drysdale and the others were up to.
The upset win, however, has no impact on Drysdale's ability to represent New Zealand in the single at the world cup regatta in Munich in June, as long as he trials well.
Cohen said he has no intention of swapping into the single, saving Rowing New Zealand a headache reminiscent of the Drysdale-Rob Waddell saga.
"I'm quite happy in the double, I feel good in that boat," Cohen said.
Drysdale, who was trying for his seventh single title, made no excuses.
"I was where I wanted to be at the 1500m, but started to lock up and then just had to hang on."
"He [Cohen] was the guy to beat, so you can't take anything away from him."
Their battle had the sniff of an upset all week with Drysdale returning from a back injury and Cohen in top form.
Adding some spice and perhaps motivation to Cohen was what happened at the start of the premier double the day before.
The race got under way, but Drysdale put up his hand inside the first 100m, claiming equipment failure, leading to the crews having a lengthy wait for a restart.
Cohen and Matthew Trott, however, won that race, with Drysdale and Peter Taylor a distant third.
The validity of the breakage was tested, however, after the race, when Cohen protested Drysdale's third place.
Emma Twigg made no race of the women's single. She led Lucy Strack and Fiona Bourke all the way and won by an impressive 11s.
The blue riband event, the men's eight, was won by Southern, who beat defending champions Waikato by three-quarters of a length.
The women's eight also went to Southern, after a battle with defending champions Central, with Waikato third.
Sunday Star Times