Two-time Olympic rowing champion Mahe Drysdale has plenty to ponder after this year’s world championships including a potential single sculls rematch with rival Robbie Manson after being beaten by Manson twice this year.
Drysdale competed with the men’s eight in this year’s World Championships in Linz, Austria but the crew failed to qualify for the 2020 Olympics this morning with their sixth-placed finish in the final.
To make matters worse, they finished just 0.55 seconds behind fifth place – the last qualifying spot for Tokyo.
Drysdale told 1 NEWS the result was a “bit gutting”.
“We came in here with pretty high hopes of at least qualifying and knowing that we could be competitive,” he said.
“We had a good race but were just a little bit outclassed today.”
It means unless Rowing NZ sends the men’s eight to the Last Chance Regatta in Lucerne next May to try and qualify, Drysdale could be left fighting for one of only five qualified seats available in the men’s programme – the single scull, the men’s pair and the men’s double sculls – for next year’s Olympics.
Drysdale wasn’t shy describing the scenario.
“It’s a pretty big disaster,” he told 1 NEWS.
“Overall, one silver medal from the men is pretty disappointing… we won two gold medals in Rio and it’s gone downhill pretty quickly.
“The writing’s been on the wall for most of the year that some of the guys were struggling and weren’t able to pull out the performances that we possibly should have got here.”
Today in Linz Manson managed to scrape through and qualify the New Zealand men’s single sculls boat for the Tokyo Olympics. However who occupies the single sculls seat for New Zealand in Tokyo is still up for grabs.
When asked if he’d be willing to compete for the single sculls seat once again Drysdale wasn’t coy with that answer either.
“That was my first choice this year and the selectors decided to go a different direction and obvoiusly we saw the result here.”
Drysdale competed with Manson for the men’s single scull’s seat earlier this year and lost at Lake Karapiro but Manson has once again struggled on the sport’s biggest stage.
The 29-year-old was forced to race in the B final today after failing to qualify for the A final and after a horror start to the race, came from last to win and qualify the boat for next year’s Olympics.
It means New Zealand has a chance to defend it’s back-to-back gold medals at the 2012 and 2016 games in the men’s single sculls which both belong to Drysdale.
And the 40-year-old says that’s an advantage in itself.
“There’s no one in that field that scares me. I’ve beaten them all plenty of times before.”
For now though, his thoughts will remain on beating just one.