Mahe Drysdale eliminated from Henley regatta

IAN ANDERSON
Last updated 10:31 06/07/2013

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A loss for Mahe Drysdale overnight means all three New Zealand men's single scullers have been eliminated from the Henley Royal Regatta.

Drysdale was beaten by Aleksandr Aleksandrov of Azerbaijan in the Diamond Challenge Cup, following defeats in the unique head-to-head racing style of the prestigious annual regatta in England for fellow Kiwis Joseph Sullivan and Duncan Grant the previous day.

The 2012 London Olympics gold medalist made his return to racing following a 10-month break from the sport with a third place at last weekend's Holland Beker regatta in Amsterdam.

His lack of preparation again showed against the promising Aleksandrov, who was fifth in the men's single sculls final Drysdale won at Eton Dorney last year.

"I hate losing but I am actually quite pleased with the standard I am at now," Drysdale told the regatta's website after his loss.

"This sport is so hard it would be crazy to come back with only a month’s training and beat the top guys."

“Mahe is a hero of mine. He’s a great guy with a big heart and I still feel really confused as to how I beat him," Aleksandrov said.

Drysdale will now head back to New Zealand to continue his training regime with coach Dick Tonks. He may have to contest trials in late July to be part of the NZ team to contest this year's World Champs starting in South Korea in late August.

Sullivan's horror year continued with a heavy defeat to veteran Slovenian Luka Spik, who won bronze in the double sculls at last year's Olympics with crewmate Iztok Cop in the event won by Sullivan and Nathan Cohen.

Lightweight single sculler Duncan Grant was beaten by Aleksandrov in his heat on Thursday night (NZ time).

However, there were wins overnight for the Kiwi men's double sculls crew of Michael Arms and Robbie Manson - dual World Cup gold medalists this year - and women's single sculler Emma Twigg, who also won gold at last month's World Cup event at Eton Dorney.

The unbeaten NZ men’s pair of Eric Murray and Hamish Bond won their opening race at the regatta while the NZ men's four and lightweight quad will be in action tonight in the Steward’s Cup Challenge semifinals.

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- Fairfax Media

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