April 4, 2019 / 12:30 AM / 3 months ago

Rowing-Olympic champs Drysdale, Bond named in squad for NZ eight

WELLINGTON, April 4 (Reuters) - Olympic champion Mahe Drysdale will not compete for New Zealand in the single sculls at World Rowing Cup events in Europe this year but was named in the “sweeps” squad from which the blue riband eight crew will be chosen.

His fellow double Olympic champion Hamish Bond, who returned to rowing last month after attempting to switch to cycling for next year’s Tokyo Games, was also named in the 14-man squad on Thursday.

“The eight is a very different boat to the single — there are a lot more moving parts and inherent risk, but the dream is certainly worth a shot,” Drysdale said in a news release.

“We have a great bunch of keen, young men and I am looking forward to working with them and teaming up with Bondy for the first time.

“We have a team capable of success, now we just have to go and do it.”

Rowing New Zealand have selected Robbie Manson in the single sculls for the World Cup season but Drysdale had been hoping they might enter him as well.

Drysdale took time off after his successful title defence in Rio and has struggled to usurp Manson since he returned to the national squad in late 2017.

The 40-year-old rowed in the quadruple sculls at last year’s World Championships but felt that had hampered him in his challenge to Manson in the single scull this year.

Drysdale said last month that he might consider rowing for another country in the single scull on the World Cup circuit as he eyes a tilt at a third successive Olympic title in the class.

Bond, who won a second successive Olympic gold in the men’s pair with Eric Murray in Rio, returned to the high performance squad last month.

The 33-year-old won a road cycling bronze medal at last year’s Commonwealth Games before bettering the New Zealand record for the individual pursuit on the track.

He returned to rowing after missing out on the team for the track cycling World Championships because his pursuit ride fell outside the selection window. (Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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