Drysdale recommits to Tokyo

Kiwi sculler eyes third Olympic gold

2 minute read
Words Benedict Tufnell
Published 10.06.20

Kiwi sculling legend Mahe Drysdale has confirmed he’ll be making one last bid for glory in Tokyo next year. Drysdale had planned to retire after the Tokyo Games and confessed that the one-year delay had left him struggling for motivation.

Photo Drysdale in the M8+ at the 2019 World Rowing Championships in Linz, Austria.
Credit Benedict Tufnell

In a blog post on his website in April, Drysdale said he had always prided himself “as being one of the most mentally strong and resilient people on this planet”, but that the postponement of the games had got to him. 

“It got so bad that I went out for a 2.5  hour cycle and after 15 minutes I turned around to return home as I just couldn’t be bothered,” admitted Drysedale in his blog. “I have never experienced anything like this; I have always been highly motivated and had an inner drive. I have never before questioned if I wanted to go to the Olympics.”

However, with the lockdown in New Zealand lifted, the 41-year-old has now confirmed his intention to attend the Games.

“It was pretty mentally tough through lockdown, but as soon as I got back on the water my mental health went from pretty low to straight back up,” Drysdale said, according to Newshub. 

“I guess you don’t know what you’ve got until you lose it. I’m doing it because I love it and that’s the only reason and there’s nothing that I have to do it for or have to achieve out of it, which is a pretty good spot to be in.”

Drysedale is not concerned about the time he has lost in the boat. “I actually feel like I’m rowing almost as well as I ever have and in some ways there’s a bit of pressure off having that time to reflect.”

Photo Drysedale after winning gold in the M1x at Rio 2016.
Credit Igor Meijer

Drysdale won back to back Olympic gold medals in the single scull in London and Rio. After a failed attempt to qualify the New Zealand eight at the 2019 World Rowing Championships last summer, Drysdale will now likely contend for his old seat in the single at Tokyo in 2021.