Gold-medal rower coming to terms with omission

IAN ANDERSON
Last updated 05:00 07/03/2014
Joseph Sullivan
EMMA ALLEN/Fairfax NZ
LEFT OUT: Joseph Sullivan.

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Joseph Sullivan's plans to win a second gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games have been shattered.

Sullivan has been left out of the Rowing New Zealand squad to attend the world championship and World Cup regattas this year - his second successive dumping after he won gold in the men's double sculls in partnership with now-retired Nathan Cohen at the 2012 Olympics.

The 26-year-old told the Waikato Times he now needed some time to gather his thoughts on his omission.

"I had a feeling it was coming, but I was hoping it wasn't," said Sullivan, who missed out on the initial New Zealand squad last year after an extend break following his London success.

Sullivan did earn a recall in the men's single scull with Mahe Drysdale on sabbatical, but was nowhere near his form of previous years - which also saw he and Cohen win gold at the 2010 and 2011 world champs - and made himself unavailable for the 2013 world championships in South Korea.

Sullivan was in the Rowing NZ summer training squad and was part of the Central RPC quad that won gold at the recent national champs.

However, Rowing NZ high performance manager Alan Cotter said Sullivan's form simply didn't measure up to his best, or his rival scullers.

"I thought I had a good chance, but obviously not," Sullivan said."I might have to leave it at that before I say something I regret."

Cotter said Sullivan has had "every opportunity with what we do here, being in the squad and having support behind him.

"All we can do is give him an opportunity, which we have done."

New Zealand have to qualify boats for the 2016 Olympics at next year's world champs - while the rowers in the boats still won't be guaranteed selection for Rio.

However, a second blow for a struggling Sullivan may spell the end of his career - despite Cotter saying there was still an opportunity for him.

"The door's still open and we'll support him if he wants to come back and give it a good go. At the end of the day it needs to come from Joe, if he wants to be there."

Rowing NZ will send 11 boats in Olympic classes to the world champs in August, with a men's double sculls crew to be named in June after injury and illness hampered selection.

The organisation has a stated goal of wanting to contest all 14 classes at Rio and may yet have 12 Olympic class crews competing at the world champs.

A young men's eight has been chosen to compete in the first and third World Cup regattas in Sydney, late this month and Lucerne in July, before attempting to defend their world under-23 title in Italy in July.

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Top performances at those three regattas may see them added to the world champs team, leaving just a men's four and women's eight as Olympic-class boats not represented.

The organisation has again targeted five medals in Amsterdam, aiming to match their haul at the London Olympics and last year's world champs.

- Fairfax Media

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