Athlete of the Month - October 2009
PART I - LIFE AFTER THE WORLD ROWING CHAMPIONSHIPS
World Rowing: So what have you been doing since your gold in Poznan at the World Rowing Championships?
Mahe Drysdale: I was in England for a mate’s wedding, then in Australia to see my sisters, then home. I pretty much took a complete break from any fitness and was out of the boat for about a month. I just got back into the boat last Monday [28 September]. I’m back in the single half the time and the eight half the time. We’re racing next week in Australia in the eight.
WR: What did your first session back in the boat feel like?
MD: It always feels a bit weird at first. You forget a bit how to row and you have to sort out the balance. But then by the end of the row it felt fine. It’s nice to be back in the boat.
WR: When in your single, do you talk to yourself to motivate yourself?
MD: I do a bit of self talk in my head. If it’s a hard session and I’m struggling I think about the Worlds or whatever the goal is to get myself going, to push harder. I think about the other rowers that I will compete against.
WR: What do you miss most that you cannot do when you are in the thick of training?
MD: Just being able to go away with mates. That’s the hardest part about it. When you’re training you’ve got to look after yourself a lot more.
WR: So before a race where can you be found?
MD: I usually don’t come to the regatta course until one or one-and-a-half hours before the race. Usually you’ll find me in the boat park lying around or stretching, chilling out. I’m more the type to lay low.
WR: Usually after the World Rowing Championships you do an international tour of head racing. Will you be doing that again this year?
MD: Yes, I’ve got two more weeks here and then I start the tour in Boston (Head of the Charles), then to Philadelphia for the Head of the Schuylkill, then Norway to see Olaf’s (Tufte) new baby. Then the Armada Cup in Switzerland, the Wingfield in London, the Silverskiff in Turin (Italy) and then the Fours Head in London.
WR: How do you design your tour?
MD: I look at when the races are and how they will fit in. I’ve done all of them before, except the Schuylkill, and if I can fit them in I will do them.
WR: So what’s your personal cure for jet lag?
MD: Not to think about it. As soon as I hit the ground I start training. I don’t get affected much.
WR: Do you ever get bumped up on flights?
MD: If I see someone I know, if the steward is someone I know then often they will. Air New Zealand has been good to me.
WR: You are very well-known in New Zealand. Has that come about gradually or were there some events that triggered it?
MD: Yes, initially it was gradual, but then last year the trials against Rob (Waddell) became national news. It was on the news every night and practically overnight people started recognising me in the street. Then after the Beijing Olympics, coming home was amazing. I have people stopping me in the street to tell me what they were doing at the time of the race, how they cried…
WR: Do people ask for your autograph?
MD: Generally Kiwis are pretty low key. People either stare at me because they think they know me or say ‘hi’ like they recognise me.
WR: Who is the most famous person in your mobile phone, phone book?
MD: Umm… probably, from a New Zealand perspective, Sean Fitzpatrick (former All Black player/captain).
PART II - MAHE'S "OFF-SEASON" ADVENTURES
The adventures of Mahe in his “off-season” continue as the single sculler follows an exhausting around-the-globe schedule hitting all of the top head racing spots and more.
World Rowing: You’ve gone from Gold Coast sunshine (Australia) to Boston snow (USA), what’s the first thing you do when you land in a new location?
Mahe Drysdale: Depending on the time of day, I usually try to go and do a light training session as that seems to be the best way to get the body to adjust. If it’s evening I try and have an early night.
WR: The Australian race (Trans-Tasman Challenge) was very close, what do you think was the difference between the two crews?
MD: Yeah it was a great race, tight right to the end. I think the biased judges were the difference (not really but as it is the Aussies, I might as well claim that to be the reason:)). Seriously though, it was probably just the experience between the two crews, especially rowing an eight. There was only a bow ball in it at the end.
WR: Is the Trans-Tasman Challenge going to be an annual event?
MD: Well I hope so. It was a great regatta, both crews had fun and it’s great to have a good kiwi eight finally that is competitive with the Aussies as we usually row small boats so rowing in an eight was a nice change.
WR: Joining in on the Great Eight in Boston, did the crew get to train together before the race?
MD: Yeah, we had three sessions before the race, they were just short ones but the crew came together pretty fast. The biggest problem was our rudder. We broke three rudders during the four rows that we had including in the warm up for the Head of the Charles race.
WR: Did the race feel different from when the eight came together earlier this year?
MD: A little bit at the start (especially for me as I was following Warren Anderson rather than Tufte), but once we settled into our rhythm the boat was very powerful and the competitiveness of the guys got the boat humming. The bends in the river were interesting and a lot different from London as our coxswain Ali had to dip her hand in the water to steer, while Tim [Maeyens] stopped rowing in the bow as we only had a pairs rudder attached and not much steering.
WR: I understand that the crew did a coaching session at Community Rowing. What did this involve?
MD: Yeah it was a great event. There were two groups, an adaptive rowing group and a whole lot of first-time rowers. Half the crew went on the water with the adaptives while the other half of us taught the new recruits to row on the ergs. Then we had a 2k relay race to practice what everyone had learnt.
WR: Were you involved in other activities off the water in Boston?
MD: We ended up being pretty busy, with training, social engagements and autograph signing filling up most of the hours we were there.
WR: What was the public interest like for the eight in Boston?
MD: There was a huge amount of interest and was a shame it was snowing on Sunday as only the hardy folk turned out for the race as it was freezing. Saturday was a much nicer day and there seemed to be larger crowds than I remember from the past.
WR: You also raced the single at the Head of the Charles. Was it difficult doing two races?
MD: It was a little tough and I much preferred having seven others guys to help me down the course and one to steer. I have only won the single once out of five attempts and still haven’t nailed the course, so unless they introduce the coxed single I might have to stick to the coxed boats if I want to win.
WR: You’ve been spending a lot of time travelling, how do you fit in your training at present?
MD: Yeah, it’s pretty tough as you have to fit in as much training as possible around the travel. The thing you end up missing is sleep as ultimately training is the number one priority and unless it’s a full day of travel I will be training before and or after the travel.
WR: Do you follow a specific diet?
MD: I am not too strict, I know how much and what I have to eat so then I try as hard as I can to stick to it. Obviously with travelling you have a little less control over what you can have but you’ll find on most menus a pretty balanced meal. Generally if I miss something one day I try and make it up the next day. It all works out about right over a week.
WR: Where are you off to now?
MD: Since Boston I have been to Charlottesville (Virginia) to train with University of Virginia. We then travelled to Washington D.C. and I am now in Philadelphia for another head race on Sunday. On Sunday night I head to Norway to visit (Olaf) Tufte and meet his new baby boy before travelling to Berne (Switzerland) for the Armada Cup next weekend. Following that I am in London, Turin, London and then home.