Mahe Drysdale has provided a blunt assessment of New Zealand rowing rival Robbie Manson as he considers a tilt to claim the single scull seat for the Tokyo Olympics.

Manson has held the single scull spot for the past three seasons, and won a battle with Drysdale to retain the position at the New Zealand trials this year. However, he could only muster seventh place at the world championships in Austria, being outgunned in his semifinal and failing to qualify for the final.

For Drysdale, that particular failure came as no surprise.

"I wouldn't say it was a surprise result - that's my personal view," Drysdale told Radio Sport, indicating he still felt he would have been a better option to sit in the individual boat.


"The selectors made a decision and I lived with that, and this is the end result."

It's not the first time Drysdale has questioned Manson's pedigree, having said in March that "there are some question marks over his performance at the pinnacle events" – a statement that the 40-year-old will no doubt feel remains valid after the most recent result.

Now, with Manson having finished fifth, fifth and seventh at his three world championship regattas and additionally having failed to make the podium at two World Cup regattas this year, there may be a renewed fight for the single scull spot at Tokyo.

And, after missing out on qualification with the eight, Drysdale could be part of it.

"The single's definitely an option, but I'd have to get going pretty quickly because I've missed the real big preparation for that, it'd be really pulling it to get in at the last minute.

"Initially, when I missed out on the single I was going to stay in the single - that was before the eight option came along – and that was so I'd be ready."

Mahe Drysdale in the men's eight. Photo / Getty
Mahe Drysdale in the men's eight. Photo / Getty

Before he makes that decision though, the question of whether Drysdale will get one final chance with the eight lingers. The eight missed out on qualification by just 0.5 seconds, and would be a strong chance of sealing their spot at the last-chance regatta in Lucerne in May, where two final slots are available.

However, that would require a different training program to manage the difficulty of needing to peak twice in an Olympic year, while the cost of sending a boat is also something Rowing New Zealand will also have to consider. Despite those challenges, Drysdale believes his crew could deliver if given the opportunity.


"We're relying on the powers that be to decide our fate, which is disappointing - we'd have liked to be in control. We've just got to wait and see what they think.

"Just knowing how close that field is – we're effectively a second and a half from a bronze medal. We're in the hunt."

An indication is likely to come before training resumes at the end of the month, and if the eight (and the men's quad) aren't given a second chance, then that will leave just five men's seats to be filled for Tokyo.

It would leave limited options for Drysdale in his quest to attend a fifth Olympic Games – and as a result, another attempt to wrestle back his single seat could potentially be on the cards.