Olympics: Drysdale’s dream of third rowing gold in Tokyo dashed

New Zealand's Mahe Drysdale rows during the men's rowing single sculls heat at the Eton Dorney during the London 2012 Olympic Games
FILE PHOTO: New Zealand's Mahe Drysdale rows during the men's rowing single sculls heat at the Eton Dorney during the London 2012 Olympic Games July 28, 2012. REUTERS/Jim Young

March 24, 2021

(Reuters) – Mahe Drysdale’s hopes of winning a third successive single sculls gold medal at the delayed Tokyo Olympics have been all but extinguished after he failed to make the New Zealand rowing team for the 2021 season on Tuesday.

The 42-year-old had put his retirement on hold to try to compete in his fifth Olympics but lost out in the single sculls slot in the elite team to 25-year-old Jordan Parry.

New Zealand’s Olympic squad will not be finalised until June 11 but with the team not travelling to World Cup regattas in Europe because of COVID-19 there is little chance of any change to the squad.

Drysdale, who won a bronze at the Beijing Olympics in single sculls before back-to-back golds at London and Rio de Janeiro, is also a five-times world champion in the event.

He was named New Zealand’s top sportsman a record five times, also landing the prestigious Supreme Halberg Award in 2006.

In addition to naming the squad, Rowing New Zealand announced that it would be sending a men’s eight but not a men’s quad to the final Olympic qualifying regatta in Lucerne in May.

New Zealand, which has won 11 of its 46 Olympic gold medals in rowing, has already qualified nine boats for the Tokyo Games, which were postponed by a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Peter Rutherford)