Mahe Drysdale is ready to go it alone as he sets his sights on making Olympic history.
Rowing New Zealand have confirmed that Drysdale is moving out of the eight and heading back to the single scull — the boat which has seen him claim three Olympic medals.
Add another medal to the collection in Toyko and the 40-year-old would become the first male to win four Olympic medals in the single scull, but Drysdale's decision could have decreased his odds of even making it to Japan in July.
Only one sculler can represent New Zealand in the single, and Drysdale has spent the last three years failing to usurp Robbie Manson from the seat. Additionally, Rowing New Zealand are now preparing to send the eight to the last-chance Olympic qualifying regatta in Lucerne, where Drysdale would have almost certainly earned a seat in a boat which is likely to qualify for Tokyo.
However, Rowing New Zealand CEO Simon Peterson confirmed Drysdale is making a change with his eye on qualifying in the single via next year's national trials.
"Mahe has committed to going back to the single at this stage and having a look at what his options are and seeing how the summer goes," Peterson told Radio Sport.
"That's been an ongoing challenge in terms of he and Robbie Manson fighting for that spot, so this summer will tell us the answer."
Manson's future is still up in the air though, after missing out on the medals for the third straight world championships, finishing in seventh earlier this month in Austria.
"I'm speaking with Robbie this week, that's a conversation we need to have," said Peterson. "He's earned the right to be in that boat back here in the New Zealand programme but hasn't been able to get on that podium, so we'll have those discussions with him this week."
If the pair were to battle it out again for the single seat, it would continue a rivalry that has seen Drysdale openly state he wasn't surprised by Manson's struggles at the world championships.
"I wouldn't say it was a surprise result — that's my personal view," Drysdale said, 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."
While Drysdale will pose another tough selection debate for the selectors over the summer, the same won't apply to Hamish Bond, who has committed to the eight as they aim for the Olympics.
Bond would have been a strong candidate to take up a spot in one of the smaller boats had Rowing New Zealand decided not to support the eight, but with both the eight and the men's quad missing out on qualifying by small margins, Peterson says those crews will get another opportunity at the last-chance regatta — if they can prove their worth over the summer.
"Both the quad and the eight, we're backing them at this stage, but we have said to them that they need to be doing the right times and getting the right results in March."
"They've got a six-month window to prove to us come March they should be selected as a New Zealand crew, and that we should send them to the last-chance regatta.
"The men's quad were one place off qualifying and we think their progress over the year has been worthwhile reinvesting in, and the men's eight were ninth last year, sixth this year, and only half a second back from qualifying, so in both cases we think it's justified to give those boats another go."