Monday, February 04, 2008

I touched briefly on the Mahe Drysdale/Rob Waddell battle in a post a few months ago. My, what a difference a few months makes. At this point, Drysdale and Waddell have gone up against each other three times already, with the score currently at 2-1, advantage Waddell. From what I understand, the Rowing NZ selectors will be choosing the single sculler for Beijing from the results of the national championships and Olympic trials in March.

I'll be honest, I want Mahe Drysdale to go all the way to the top of the M1x podium at the Olympics this year. Following him from his unpredictable win at Gifu in 2005 to where he is today has been a great story, and I can't think of any single scullers who have won an Olympic gold medal after winning every worlds in the quadrennial. It would be an awesome achievement in the sport, and one I would be most welcome to see. However, regardless of which man goes to Beijing, Rowing NZ has a good shot of winning the single sculls title this year.

I can't help but see parallels to this duel and the battle between John Biglow and Tiff Wood leading up to the 1984 American Olympic trials. Most well-read rowers know this story from David Halberstam's "The Amateurs" or Brad Alan Lewis' "Assault on Lake Casitas." I can only imagine the dynamic between Rob Waddell and Mahe Drysdale to be similar to the Wood/Biglow relationship before that trial; it has been widely reported that Drysdale began rowing again after being inspired by Waddell's 2000 Olympic victory. I can't wait to see how this story plays out over the next seven months.


Blogger Dr Victor von Doom said...

Good post, and I really feel for Mahe as well....

Drysdale has the unfortunate luck of living in the era of perhaps the most physiologically gifted oarsman of all time.

Waddell is a BEAST. He is a massive man in person. He just clocked a 5:36.6 2k after only 5 months of training following a 7 year layoff. Think about that. What will he be pulling in June? Scary to think.

Therefore, I think a more fitting parallel is Lars Ullrich and Lance Armstrong in cycling.

Waddell is only going to get faster - nothing (except himself or a freak injury) will stop him from winning gold in Beijing.

Drysdale can conceivably go and row the Australian M1x or as is being discussed row the 2x and test his mettle against the technically brilliant Frenchmen.

Either way, the rowing community benefits from seeing such greatness on display.



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