Drysdale back with coach
Mahe Drysdale and coach Calvin Ferguson will reunite, as the double Olympic champion rower continues his return to the sport.
After Drysdale’s former mentor Dick Tonks parted ways with Rowing New Zealand in acrimonious circumstances after the Rio Olympics, he needs to find a new coach who is acceptable to the country’s centralised programme.
The 38-year-old is aiming to earn back the single sculls spot, now occupied by Robbie Manson. Manson was fifth at this year’s world championships, but hampered by injuries after overtaking Drysdale’s world-best time at Poznan in June.
Drysdale will join 10 athletes in the men’s sculling summer squad run by Ferguson at Lake Karapiro.
The squad includes world champion double scullers Chris Harris and John Storey, lightweight double hopefuls James Lassche and Matt Dunham, and six quadruple sculls aspirants.
Manson will train separately with coach Noel Donaldson ahead of the February 13-17 national championships at Lake Karapiro. Trials for the international season will likely pit Drysdale and Manson against each other immediately afterwards.
Drysdale won his first two world championships under Tonks in 2005 and 2006, but was coached by Ferguson to win his 2007 title and the bronze at the 2008 Olympics when he was hampered by illness. Drysdale has since been mentored by Tonks.
Calvin Ferguson said he would work with Drysdale through the summer and reassess after that.
“He has a challenge ahead for the single spot to get his fitness back up and to see how the speed of his boat goes. He’s not as conditioned as he can be after a year off. I understand what his needs are, and what he’s done with Dick. The relationship was quite easy between us all, even though they did their own thing.”
Ferguson rowed three years in a national lightweight four with Tonks as coach, and worked as Rob Waddell’s training partner at times when the Sydney Olympic champion was mentored by Rowing New Zealand’s former head coach.
“I learned a lot of his processes and techniques,” Ferguson said.
“Now our children go to sports together and our families get on well. I keep [sporting] politics and individual friendships separate.”
Ferguson said Rowing New Zealand needed to have a conversation with Drysdale about who he wanted to be coached by long term.
“I’d be happy to coach Mahe all the way through [to Tokyo] because he’s pretty much self-managed.”
Calvin Ferguson will work with Mahe Drysdale this summer.