Kiwi single sculler Mahe Drysdale has confirmed he will attempt to become the third man in history to win sculling gold medals at three consecutive Olympics next year in Tokyo, despite the fact he may not get to race between now and the Olympic start line.
With the international race calendar already confirmed for next year, Drysdale says the New Zealand rowing team may choose to bypass those regattas, rather than serve two weeks off the water in coronavirus isolation on their return home. New Zealand has been successful in largely eradicating the virus in their country thanks to stringent lockdowns, and anyone entering the country is now expected to isolate for two weeks.
“Being a Covid-free country right now, we have a big advantage,” Drysedale told Newshub. “There are still countries that are not back training as a squad. We have a very competitive environment here and everything we need to prepare as best we can. But looking ahead, we’ve got to be prepared that, potentially, we’re not going to travel or race next year. We could go straight into Tokyo and have to race. I’m still confident in that, because I know what we’ve got in the shed and how many good crews we’ve got to benchmark ourselves off. We’ll still have a very competitive environment, but we may not see some of our competitors until we step foot on the course at Tokyo.”
The decision to attend pre-Olympic regattas next season will be made by Rowing New Zealand in the coming months and nothing is yet set in stone.
Drysdale had previously reported on his blog that the lockdown had been extremely mentally challenging for him and he was considering his future in the sport. However, thanks to his family he says, he has managed to regain his focus.
“Losing all that motivation happened within a day, from being highly motivated to having no motivation at all. Thankfully, I had the back-up of family and I really immersed myself in that to get through it.”