Mahe Drysdale keeps options open as he eyes another Olympic rowing gold medal

Mahe Drysdale celebrates winning gold in the men's singles at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
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Mahe Drysdale celebrates winning gold in the men's singles at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Mahe Drysdale says the single scull isn't his only option as he sets off in pursuit of another Olympic gold.

Drysdale has been back training for three months after taking a break following his second successive gold medal in the men's single scull at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, and was named on Wednesday in the Rowing New Zealand elite summer training squad.

While a record-equalling third single scull gold is a big drawcard, the 38-year-old said being part of a crew boat was also an option as he looked towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Mahe Drysdale pips Croatia's Damir Martin to gold.
GETTY IMAGES

Mahe Drysdale pips Croatia's Damir Martin to gold.

"I was very open to where I go," Drysdale said of his return to rowing.

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Robbie Manson wants to be NZ's men's single sculler at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
STEVE MCARTHUR/ROWING NZ

Robbie Manson wants to be NZ's men's single sculler at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

"I'm probably trying to find combinations that work and at this stage that's probably looking more towards the single, but there's still a few conversations to be had. I'd like to have that [sorted] at the start of the summer squad. It's only fair to let everyone know where we're at."

Drysdale said he didn't really have a preference.

"There's advantages and disadvantages in both. I have motivation in both.

"With the single, there's some things that I'd love to do - to win the most world titles of anyone ever, to win three gold medals - there's only two people who have done it before in the single.

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"Alternatively, there's also things in crew boats - I started my career in crew boats so it wouldn't be a bad way to end and it's possibly a bit easier on my body.

"Ultimately, the goal is to win another gold medal in Tokyo - so I'll look at where my best option of doing that is."

In Drysdale's absence, Robbie Manson represented NZ in the single scull in 2017 and set a new world's best time, erasing Drysdale from the record books. He won both World Cup events in style but was hampered by injury in the buildup to the recent world champs in the US and could only manage fifth in the final.

Drysdale knows if he is to be in a single over summer, he will face a pitched battle throughout - something not new to him after a storied rivalry with Rob Waddell.

"It's one of the advantages in New Zealand - there's always good people. Whether it's Nathan Cohen, or Nathan Twaddle right back in the day, Robbie, John Storey, Joe Sullivan, there's obviously been lots of competition. Obviously Rob Waddell as well."

Drysdale says he's happy with where he's at physically and mentally heading into summer.

"I really enjoyed watching the world champs - it was the first time I hadn't been there since 2003.

"While I missed that competitiveness, there wasn't any inkling of 'I wish I was there racing'. Mentally I'm feeling really excited.

"I've really enjoyed the training - it's been nice coming into it on my own terms and knowing I had a goal of being in semi-good shape by the end of October and I feel I'm getting there now.

"Mentally, I've got it - it's something that I've always had. I'm very determined, if I set my mind to something, generally I achieve it, so I'm not too worried there.

"I enjoyed the training more than I ever had in those three years into Rio and I think a lot of that was having that break, and I feel very much the same way now.

"Physically, that's the big unknown. I'm going to a place where not many people have been before. There is a few examples. But I'm going to be 41, going on 42, in Tokyo, so that's a little bit of an unknown as to how my body's going to respond and react and how good I can be."

Drysdale feels he can still be better.

"That was the reason I went on - I was still getting better in Rio and I do believe physically I can be in good enough shape to be tonking it out for the medals at the front of the field.

For the next year, he wants to be "competitive".

"I'd be looking to medal next year, in either class, but 2019 is when you want to be chasing that world title and setting yourself up for that Olympic title."

 - Stuff

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