Interview with Mahe Drysdale, NZ 1x

BEIJING - AUGUST 09:  Mahe Drysdale of New Zea...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Rowperfect has been a fan of Mahe 's for years and was delighted that he accepted our invitation to do an interview for our readers.  Mahe is the New Zealand single sculler and has four World Championships Gold Medals and an Olympic Bronze in this boat category – with the expectation of more to come.  Mahe Drysdale World Rowing biography.

So you train part of the year at Tideway Scullers in London and part at Lake Karapiro in NZ. What have you learnt from your time at TSS?

Its great to have the variety between the two venues, I have learnt a lot from TSS, I started my single sculling campaign there in 2004 when I learnt important lessons like don't fall in the Thames, its cold and you're likely to get sick! But also was good to have a real technical focus at the beginning of my sculling and I think you gain a lot from sculling on the fast flowing water as it teaches you a lot about boat control and reading the conditions. I found I wasn't going that well when I left the UK but as soon as I started sculling on still water my boat control was awesome and found I was actually going quite well.

Obviously having a ‘home' World Championships in New Zealand is very important to you. What changes to your training have you put in place for this season?

No real changes, obviously it's a longer year with the worlds being in November instead of August which just means the base work phase goes for longer and we push everything out a few months, apart from that its just trying to build on improving from last year to try and stay in front of the field. It will be awesome having the worlds here at home, Karapiro is looking really good and will be ready to go like all us athletes with the excitement of a home worlds.

We all cheered you home in Beijing and the result wasn't what you wanted. If you had won Gold, would you have retired from the sport?

I don't think so, my decision to continue was partly formed from wanting to achieve my Olympic dream in London but the main two factors that got me back were the fact that I enjoy rowing and love it as a career and secondly that I felt I could improve from where I was, so while I still want to win an Olympic gold if your heart isn't in it or you don't think you could improve then there would be no point in continuing. Conversely if I had of won I still think the enjoyment and avoiding a ‘real' job would have got me back for another Olympics.

What motivates you to go training on those days when your duvet feels like the best place in the world?

Winning. I love winning and know what it takes to win, so those tough mornings when its cold and you're tired I think back to how good it feels to stand on the top of the podium and how much I hate standing on one of the lower levels and I'm soon out of bed and down at the lake.

Got any advice for young athletes and young coaches?

Basically that anything is possible if you want it enough and are willing to put in the hard yards to get there. I don't believe there are any secrets to success. I wasn't that naturally talented and sheer hard work and determination has got me to where I am. Dick Tonks is my coach and he again believes in ‘miles make champions' so that's what we do and so far its worked pretty well. I do however think its very important you get a good bunch of people around you that you trust, that will support you and who will push you beyond your limits as its very tough to do it all by yourself. I wouldn't have done it alone.

Using your experience, what would you do differently if you were trying to break into the international NZ squad now?

I was lucky in the fact that when I got into the squad they were picking anyone they could find as rowing was in a bit of a slump in NZ (as an example I pulled a 6:08 erg at my first trials which put me in the top 8 in the country, now anything over 6:00 and you're nearly dismissed after the erg). Currently it is much different, the standard is so much higher and if I did what I did then, now, I wouldn't even get a look in. If I was trying to break into the squad now I would do two things, work on my erg, make sure it was good so I could match anyone else in the squad as well as showing continual improvement in my scores. Secondly and most importantly work on my boat moving ability making sure I did well in small boats to keep my name in front of the selectors eyes as much as I could.
 

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