Drysdale commits to Rio, after a break

Last updated 11:13 21/12/2012
Waikato Times

New Zealand Olympic sculling champion Mahe Drysdale made his much anticipated announcement concerning his future and he is aiming to win a second gold in Rio 2016.

Mahe Drysdale
IAIN McGREGOR/Fairfax NZ
SEEKING GOLD: Olympic champion Mahe Drysdale will take a break from rowing until July, but has committed to a Rio 2016 campaign.

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Olympic gold medalist Mahe Drysdale has ended speculation over his future by committing through to the 2016 Games in Rio de Janiero.

But the 34-year-old Drysdale, who won gold in the single sculls in London to back up a bronze in Beijing four years earlier, will take a six-month sabbatical from rowing and will be back in the boat at Lake Karapiro for trials in July next year.

His aim will be to gain boat selection for the 2013 Rowing World Championships being held in Chungju, South Korea in August 2013.

The sabbatical means he will miss the World Cup regattas.

Drysdale intends to stay fit by training for the Coast to Coast and by completing an Ironman in May.

He also hopes to participate in golf's NZPGA Championship at The Hills as well as race at the Royal Henley Regatta.

Rowing New Zealand chief executive Simon Peterson reacted with natural delight at Drysdale's decison to forge on with his illustrious career.

"Mahe is going to take a sabbatical and Rowing NZ fully supports his decision. It is a well deserved break and it will ensure he is fresh and ready for the campaign to Rio.  We are supportive of Mahé's desire to keep competing at the top level, and this break will give him the best chance to deliver a world class performance in Rio," Peterson said.

"However under such circumstances, he will not be promised a Rowing NZ rowing seat for the 2013 World Rowing Championships - he will just be eligible for selection and will need to prove he is the best person for the boat and can produce the results we expect of our squad."

Drysdale said he felt a need for a sabbatical.

"After 12 solid years and three consecutive Olympic campaigns, it is time to take some time out of rowing to recharge physically and mentally," he said.

"I have thoroughly thought through my options, asking and answering a number of questions and consulting a number of people along the way. While I have achieved everything I have ever wanted to in rowing and it culminated in Olympic Gold in London, I have found the drive, desire and determination to go after a second Olympic Gold in Rio.

"Rowing is a tough sport, over the past 12 years I have trained at least twice a day, six days a week, eleven months each year. This break will give me a change to travel and complete some alternative challenges."

Drysdale is also a five-time world champion (2005, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011).

Drysdale thanked Rowing New Zealand for the support in allowing him the time to come to his decision.

"While being supportive, I understand my place in the team is no way secure and I, like every other member of the New Zealand Rowing team, will have to prove myself to the selectors on my return in July and right through to 2016.

This decision has always revolved around one question: 'What will it take to win in Rio?' I believe this will give me my best chance of delivering my desired goal in Rio."

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Six out of the nine rowing Olympic medallists will be back into training by January 2013, while the remaining three - Drysdale, Juliette Haigh and Storm Uru - will pursue new challenges. 

Haigh retired earlier in December, and Uru is taking a break from rowing to gain work experience. He hopes to complete an MBA at Cambridge University, where he will continue his rowing and will trial for the Boat Race.

- Fairfax Media

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