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With so much uncertainty already a factor for many competing for the first time, this year’s event in a pandemic-ruled world will add just another level of weirdness to the whole experience. “It will definitely be the strangest Olympics ever,” agrees Drysdale, who says that it was one he was personally looking forward to the challenge of tackling. He thinks the event will see some very strange results emerge given the unusual nature of sport and training over the last eighteen months, “with some people deal- ing with that very well and really thriving because they focus on those controllables, while others are going to lose it completely”. Our New Zealand athletes will be effectively locked in their rooms for anything up to five weeks’ time, given that they’ll arrive well in advance, do their time in the Olympic Village and then have to undergo MIQ once they return home. “That’s a lot of time to spend by yourself,” says Drysdale, “and some athletes will deal with that really well while others won’t. There will be some frustra- tion but they’ll just have to try their best to blank it out.” Lastly I ask him: what does he think competing will be like with- out the welcome roar of the crowd? “It is going to be very strange, competing in front of a limited local crowd that aren’t allowed to cheer. You’re not concentrating on them but you know they’re there. When I competed at the London Olympics on the Eton course, you could hear them 500 metres away, it was just exceptional. It definitely lifts you, and for the athletes at this year’s Olympics, that lifting will be up to the individual to do for themselves.”

“I ALWAYS KNEW

WHEN ROWING FINISHED I’D HAVE PLENTY OF TIME TO THINK ABOUT

WHAT I REALLY WANT TO DO.”

Lake Karapiro, with Frankie

2021 JULY View 17

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