Olympic rower Robbie Manson embracing new path in world of elite show jumping

World record holder Robbie Manson spent 15 years competing as an elite rower but despite his sudden retirement from the sport late last year that experience isn’t going to waste.

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Mason has teamed up with top rider Sam McIntosh. Source: 1 Sport

The 31-year-old is working as a groom for top Kiwi show jumper Sam McIntosh and Takapoto Estate where his job is still about performance.

"I know what it takes to compete at the top level so trying to make sure the horses are ready to go and perform at their best" says Manson.

For years he's been the one expected to perform and since missing out on a medal at the Rio Olympics Manson's been building for Tokyo 2020.

After a well publicised battle with Mahe Drysdale for the single sculls seat he'd more recently settled back in the men's double with Chris Harris. 

However following the delay of the Games he realised the passion wasn't there anymore. Initially he wondered what he'd do next but then fate stepped in.

"Literally the next day the Takapoto team put up an ad on Facebook looking for a groom, so I rang Sam [McIntosh] that afternoon, next day I went around and met her and started working there the following week. It was just meant to be I think"

"I used to ride when I was younger and absolutely loved it and if I hadn't gone down the rowing path it would have been very likely that this is possibly where I would have ended up."

The single sculls world record holder knows a thing or two about bringing out the best in someone.

"You want them to be in the best frame of mind going into a competition as well, they're not machines, they're living breathing animals and they've got to be happy and you've got to love them and care for them really well so they'll go out and compete the best they can."

McIntosh says his experience means he's contributing a lot to the team, even though his background isn't in riding.

"To have someone with the motivation and determination that you need in sport, to be on our team's fantastic"

The duo's love of horses isn't their only common ground, they've also both competed on sport's biggest stage, the Olympics. Manson in London 2012 and Rio 2016 while McIntosh rode for Bulgaria through a riding connection at the Sydney 2000 games.

The 45-year-old would love the chance to wear the silver fern in Tokyo.

"I'm a Kiwi at heart even if I've spent most of my life in Europe. It would be a real buzz ."

Manson would also love a chance to go to another Olympic Games, even if he's not the one competing. For the time being though, he's just loving something that's different and new.

As for the sport he spent more than half his life doing, he says he's not tempted to get back in a boat at all.