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Rowing: Olympic champ Drysdale to push through to postponed Tokyo Games

FILE PHOTO: 2016 Rio Olympics - Rowing - Quarterfinals - Men's Single Sculls Quarterfinals - Lagoa Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 09/08/2016. Mahe Drysdale (NZL) of New Zealand competes. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Olympic champion rower Mahe Drysdale has confirmed he will attempt to win a third successive single sculls gold medal at next year’s postponed Tokyo Olympics at the age of 42.

The New Zealander, who won gold at London and Rio de Janeiro, said in April after the Tokyo Games were postponed due to the novel coronavirus outbreak that he doubted if he had the mental strength to continue for another 12 months.

“I guess you don’t know what you’ve got until you lose it,” Drysdale told local media.

“It was pretty mentally tough through lockdown but as soon as I got back on the water my mental health went from pretty low to straight back up.

“I actually feel like I’m rowing almost as well as I ever have and in some ways there’s a bit of pressure off having that time to reflect.”

Drysdale had said previously that Tokyo would be his fifth and last Olympics. He turns 42 in November.

A five-times world champion in the event, Drysdale has battled to regain his seat in New Zealand’s single scull since taking a break following his Rio triumph, with Robbie Manson preferred by selectors.

Drysdale instead was part of the quadruple sculls crew in 2018 and men’s eight in 2019 but returned to the single scull for his final year of international competition.

Britain’s Harry Blackstaffe is the oldest single sculls champion in Olympic history, having won gold at the 1908 Games in London, aged 40.

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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