Mahe Drysdale’s illustrious rowing career has come to an end.
Drysdale, 42, has announced his retirement from the sport after 19 years at the elite level. It brings to an end a career that includes two Olympic gold medals, a bronze and five world championship titles all in the single scull.
He had been trying to make it to a fourth Olympics, but this week conceded the seat to 25-year-old Jordan Parry.
Parry was named as the single sculler in Rowing New Zealand’s elite squad named in March.
Drysdale told 1 NEWS he had given it one last shot recently at the winter series on Lake Karapiro.
"We had a racing series over the last weekend and I was beaten in that and fairly well.
"As I crossed the finish line in that final race I was like 'that's me'," he said.
He’s been fighting for the seat ever since defending his Olympic title at the Rio Games in 2016.
First, Robbie Manson took the single spot and subsequently won the World Championship in Poland in 2017, setting a world’s best time in the process.
He qualified the boat for Tokyo. But after the Olympics were delayed last year, Manson surprised the rowing world by announcing an indefinite break.
It left the spot in the squad open and another chance for Drysdale to win it back. However, Parry quickly emerged from a number of contenders as the likely option and will now be named in the Olympic squad tomorrow as the single sculler.
Despite the disappointment, Drysdale said he walked away with his head held high.
"Obviously it didn't end as I'd hoped but I'm very realistic of what I had to do this year and I didn't achieve that, so I walk away with my head held high and very happy with what I've achieved throughout my career.
"It's been an absolute privilege to wear the silver fern and represent our country.
"It's been amazing and I hope everyone else has got as much joy out of it as I have."
Drysdale won consecutive Olympic golds in 2012 and 2016. He dominated in London, beating long-time rival Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic.
It was much closer in Rio, when Drysdale held on in a thriller from Croatia’s Damir Martin. But, while the golds, naturally, stand out, his bronze at the 2008 Beijing Games will always be a lasting image in New Zealand sporting history.
Having battled illness and severe dehydration, Drysdale was left spent hanging out the side of the boat.