Close finishes for Mahe

Mahe Drysdale and Stephen Jones approach the finish line in the in the men’s premier coxless pair.

Cambridge local Mahe Drysdale gave an impressive string of performances at the New Zealand Rowing Champs last week, competing across three premier events – the men’s pair, four and single –making the podium twice despite dealing with a neck injury.

The four-time Olympic veteran and eight-time national single sculls champion faced his closest competitor, Robbie Manson, in the men’s single sculls final on Saturday, but finished 25 seconds behind him in 5th place.

His results in the men’s premier coxless pair on Friday proved more fruitful, finishing in third place with Stephen Jones just 0.61 seconds behind second place, and 2.69 seconds behind first. They put strong pressure on the winning Central RPC pair over the first half, holding second place and closing the gap on first, before Waikato RC gave them a tight battle over the second half, where they slipped to third in the final moments of the race.

Mahe Drysdale caught up with Cambridge News at the national champs last Friday.

Drysdale joined a West End crew for the men’s premier coxless four, in a highly competitive final on Saturday, finishing 2.17 seconds behind North Shore for second place.

“This week’s probably gone a bit better than I expected, but I’m not really expecting miracles,” Drysdale said on Friday following the men’s premier pairs race. “I’m still very much in the comeback phase so it’s just go out and do the best I can.”

Drysdale said rain at the start of the week didn’t hinder the competitors’ performances. “Rain’s no problem,” he explained, “the wind is really our biggest issue, and there’s been pretty much non-existent wind all week, and the water’s just been fantastic. It’s been probably the best national champs we’ve had up here in terms of weather.

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