Olympic postponement mentally challenging for New Zealand’s Drysdale


(Reuters) – The decision to push back the Tokyo Games due to the COVID-19 pandemic has left New Zealand Olympic single sculls champion Mahe Drysdale struggling for motivation and unsure if he wants to take part in the rescheduled event next year.

The 41-year-old, who has represented New Zealand in four Olympics, winning gold in Rio and London and bronze in Beijing, planned to retire after competing at the 2020 Tokyo Games, originally scheduled to run from July 24-Aug. 9.

The International Olympic Committee announced last month that the Games would be moved to July 23-Aug. 8, 2021 due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

“I had just returned from a training camp and felt I had made some huge improvements in my rowing,” Drysdale wrote in a blog post on his website here “Two days later it was announced the Olympics were postponed till 2021.

“In one day, I went from being on a high to lacking all motivation and questioning if I even wanted to go to the Olympics.”

Drysdale said he had never before experienced a similar drop in energy and that the postponement had taken a mental toll.

“I have always been highly motivated and had an inner drive. I have never before questioned if I wanted to go to the Olympics,” he said.

“Right now I am at a place where I am not certain that I have the drive needed to do what is required. Mentally it has been challenging.”

He added that he would decide in the next few weeks whether to participate in 2021.

“Will I be in Tokyo next year? I am not sure but probably,” he said. “I am not there yet but it’s not the time to make decisions right now. I am sure the answers will become clearer in the next few weeks.

“The past week I have been doing a few acclimatising ‘walks’, testing the body and the mind to see if I have the want to get to the top again.”

Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge