Our Olympic rowers share how it’s done


Kiwi rowing Olympians have shared secrets of their success with aspiring Wakatipu youngsters. 

London Olympic single scull gold medallist Mahe Drysdale and Storm Uru, who won bronze in the lightweight double sculls, gave Wakatipu Rowing Club members a pep talk last Saturday morning. 

The rowers, in Queens­town for a fundraiser, met club members at their Lake Hayes training hub to share insights. 

Drysdale says he didn’t start rowing until he was 18 and only made the New Zealand team after completing a university degree. 

When he began he weighed 116kg and wasn’t very fit. 

“At the start, training was once a week on a Saturday morning and then before you know it you’re training six days a week and you don’t have time to do anything else.” 

Drysdale says when watching Kiwi Rob Waddell win gold in his event at the 2000 Sydney Olympics he decided he was going to do the same. 

“I had the self-belief. Each session you just want to improve a little bit. The things I’m doing now I would never have imagined were possible 

“It’s important to really push yourself. Now I have an Olympic gold medal … 12 years ago I sat on the couch as a fat boy.” 

Uru says his best result at secondary school was a bronze at the annual Maadi Cup. 

“We had a lot of fun but wasn’t till after I left school that I give it more of a push and started training over winter.” 

Uru didn’t make the NZ team till his late teens and says the Olympics was the pinnacle of his career. 

A Cambridge University scholarship now beckons for Uru. 

“The world can really open up if you become a top rower.” 

Afterwards, the pair presented Wakatipu Rowing Club’s ‘best baker’ award to 15-year-old Dylan O’Connor, whose specialty for team regattas was savoury muffins.