Kiwi rower Mahe Drysdale is seeking assistance from his former coach Dick Tonks as the Olympic Champion continues his push to reclaim the New Zealand single sculls seat for the Tokyo Olympics.
The two are working together in British Colombia, Canada where Tonks is currently coaching for Rowing Canada.
“This is a pretty important year … to try to break back into the team as the single sculler,” says Drysdale. “There's no one better than Dick to try to guide me as to some things I haven't been doing as well since Rio.”
The move back to his former coach is controversial. Tonks worked with Drysdale for 13 years and two Olympic Gold medals, but the duo parted ways after the Rio Olympics following a falling out between Rowing New Zealand and the highly successful coach. In 2015 1 NEWS revealed Tonks was working with a Chinese crew at Lake Karapiro against Rowing NZ’s wishes.
Drysdale often trains overseas and this year, with Rowing New Zealand’s permission, he’s decided to head to Canada for some Tonks treatment.
He has only been there for a few days but already it’s proving tough.
"Surviving the training has been a little bit of a shock, so it's pretty brutal three times a day and a lot of ks."
But it’s the kind of brutal training that Drysdale says helped him become a double Olympic gold medallist.
"It's not just physically that you benefit from that, it's mentally as well because you learn how to survive.”
As well as Drysdale, Tonks helped develop the Evers-Swindell twins and Hamish Bond and Eric Murray. The 39-year-old worries the next generation are missing out.
“Probably a lot of the young guys have never seen anyone train as hard as what we did in those early days, certainly something I think could improve our programme is going back to that a little bit.”
Rowing New Zealand is currently reviewing its programme after disappointing results at this year's world championships but say they stand behind their local coaches.
Drysdale will rejoin the summer squad at Lake Karapiro next month.