Benedict Tufnell

Mahé Versus Manson: The Battle For Tokyo.

by Benedict Tufnell

It seemed the perfect end to a golden career for New Zealand single sculler Mahé Drysdale.

Clinching his second consecutive Olympic gold medal in what has been described as ‘the final of the century’, Drysdale beat Croatia’s Damir Martin by just 1000th of a second on the waters of the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas at the Rio Olympics in 2016. At 37 years old, the rowing world wished Drysdale well as he surely headed into retirement.

” … I back myself to get that seat back.”

With big shoes left to fill, Robbie Manson stepped seamlessly into them at the start of the 2017 season. Winning the first two world cups convincingly and setting a new world’s best time, the Kiwis had found a worthy successor in Manson. Or so they thought.

After a year away from the sport, Drysdale returned to the New Zealand Squad at the end of 2017 and has now confirmed that he is committed to seeing the campaign through to Tokyo 2020.

Drysdale won the Rio Olympic gold medal by just 1000th of a second over Croatia’s Damir Martin.

But before he can challenge the world’s best, Drysdale will have to settle his domestic dispute first. Manson wont relinquish his new-found position easily. “It’s going to be tough, Robbie proved this year that on his day he is capable of being world-class,” Drysdale told New Zealand’s Newshub.

” … I have been the best sculler in the world, over and over and over.”

“I know that over a period of 12 years I have been the best sculler in the world, over and over and over. I’ve just got to focus on doing what I need to do and make sure that I get myself in a position that I’m back to my best – then I back myself to get that seat back.”

The first Drysdale/Manson showdown was scheduled for this coming weekend at the 5km Billy Webb Challenge on the Whanganui River in New Zealand. Manson however has withdrawn his entry – there may well be some mind games at play here as the two eye each other up. There is further opportunity for the pair to clash at the Karapiro Club Regatta on December 2nd or the Christmas Regatta which begins December 15th. We will keep you updated.

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