Row­ers go scull to scull

Herald on Sunday - - IN OTHER NEWS - By An­drew Alder­son

A block­buster of a sum­mer duel has turned into a tril­ogy between Mahe Drys­dale and Rob­bie Man­son to de­ter­mine who will rep­re­sent New Zealand in the men’s sin­gle sculls at Septem­ber’s row­ing world cham­pi­onships in Bul­garia.

Orig­i­nally it was ex­pected that Row­ing New Zealand would se­lect one ath­lete to rep­re­sent the class at the tri­als which fol­low this week’s na­tional cham­pi­onships (duel 1).

In­stead — be­cause no-one else wants to con­test the berth — they will let both race over­seas at the June 21-24 World Cup in Aus­tria (duel 2), and the July 13-15 World Cup in Switzer­land (duel 3).

The best per­former in that fi­nal re­gatta will get the nod.

The sce­nario con­trasts with a pre­vi­ous oc­cur­rence, ahead of the 2008 Bei­jing Olympics.

Drys­dale (by then a three-time world cham­pion) was chal­lenged in the tri­als by Rob Wad­dell (a three­time world cham­pion and Syd­ney Olympic gold medal­list).

Their duel re­quired a de­cider which Drys­dale won in front of a packed Lake Kara­piro em­bank­ment when Wad­dell suf­fered a re­cur­rence of the heart con­di­tion atrial fib­ril­la­tion.

Man­son looks the favourite on the ba­sis of early sea­son form, beat­ing Drys­dale at the Christ­mas re­gatta and North Is­land club cham­pi­onships. The 28-year-old won both his World Cups last year — and over­took Drys­dale’s world-best time in the process — but fin­ished fifth at the world cham­pi­onships as he bat­tled back from in­jury.

Drys­dale is re­turn­ing af­ter a year off fol­low­ing his Games tri­umph by less than the width of a bow ball in Rio. The 39-year-old’s pedi­gree is undis­puted as a dou­ble Olympic and five-time world cham­pion.

He is train­ing un­der Calvin Fer­gu­son — his coach from 2007 and 2008 — af­ter the de­par­ture of for­mer men­tor Dick Tonks from Row­ing New Zealand’s sta­ble.

Drys­dale was happy with how the se­lec­tion pro­ce­dure will play out.

“We tend to se­lect our crews early in March, and while that can work in some cases, in oth­ers, it can be held open.

“Row­ing New Zealand have de­cided early in the cy­cle they will give us both time, and I think that works pretty well.

“Not hav­ing to peak at this time of year is a pos­i­tive. Be­ing quick a few weeks out from a world champs is a lot eas­ier than do­ing it now and go­ing back to do it again.”

If both make the fi­nal, they will race for the na­tional sin­gle sculls ti­tle next week­end at Lake Kara­piro.

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