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It’s ‘Bring on Beijing’ for Mahe

It’s ‘Bring on Beijing’ for Mahe after Claiming his Third World Championship Single Scull Crown

18 September 2007: Three-time world single scull rowing champion Mahe Drysdale quickly put his world championship success in Munich last month behind him, in his quest for Olympic gold in Beijing next year.

While the rest of the NZ rowing squad headed home after capturing three gold and two silver medals at the 2007 World Rowing Championships and qualifying seven boats for the 2008 Olympics, Drysdale (28) caught the first plane for Beijing to begin his Olympic bid.

Drysdale, guest speaker at the Westpac Halberg Celebrity Sporting luncheon in New Plymouth next month, says despite some access difficulties, the five-day stint in the Olympic city was a valuable exercise.

“I just wanted to get a feel for the city, check out the course and the training facilities. Unfortunately security was pretty tight so access to the athletes village wasn’t possible, but I was able to check out things like the time it will take to get from the village to the course and what will be available when we get there,” he says.

“With a new freeway finished the drive should be about 45mins from the village to the course, which isn’t too bad. It was the same time at the 2005 World Champs in Japan and 40mins at Eton last year. The heat and the traffic could be more of a problem.”

Drysdale is determined to leave no stone unturned in emulating the feats of his idol Rob Waddell who became the first Kiwi to win an Olympic gold medal in the single scull back in Sydney in 2000. His world championship three-peat at Munich edged him one ahead of Waddell on the World Championship gold medal count. Now he is aiming for Olympic gold.

He believes the success of the Kiwi rowers at Munich, where lightweight single sculler Duncan Grant and the men’s four also won gold, while Georgina and Caroline Evers-Swindell and Nathan Twaddle and George Bridgewater bagged silvers medals in the women’s double scull and men’s pair respectively, augers well for New Zealand rowing at Beijing and beyond.
Meanwhile Drysdale is looking forward to his Westpac Halberg Celebrity Sporting engagement at the New Plymouth International Hotel on Wednesday Oct 10 as the place holds good memories for him. It was back in 2004 when the men’s elite rowing squad, who were based in Waitara during a summer training camp, joined the Hurricanes for some pre-season training.

“I remember we did some cross training with them at a track,” he says. “We tried packing down against them in a scrum, which wasn’t a smart idea. Then we did some sprints and they thumped us again. But when it came to the 3km run we beat just about all of them. That was a special moment.”

Drsydale, the 2006 Halberg Award winner for his dramatic come-from-behind victory over Marcel Hacker (Germany) in a world record time to grab victory at last year’s World Rowing Champions at Eton, is looking for another special moment in Beijing next August.

The Halberg Trust has planned a total of 11 Westpac Celebrity Sporting Functions around the country, which started in Auckland on August 10 with the 1987 All Blacks tribute luncheon at Eden Park and will finish in Wellington on November 2. Other keynote speakers confirmed include Sydney Olympic rowing gold medallist Rob Waddell, 2006 Westpac Sportswoman of the Year Valerie Vili and 2004 Athens gold medallists Georgina and Caroline Evers-Swindell.


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