Mahe Drysdale wins Bronze, Beijing 2008

Drysdale was a popular choice in Beijing as the New Zealand team captain and flag-bearer at the opening ceremony. During a long, steamy Beijing evening the opening ceremony seemed interminable. By the time Drysdale got back to the Olympic village it was too late – he had lost a lot of weight through constant sweating and, worse, had picked up a stomach bug.

The single sculls competition began first thing the next morning and Drysdale was far below his best. He tried all week to shake off his illness, but even in the final was far from 100 per cent. He barely made the final, finishing third in his semi-final behind Synek and Campbell. In the final he clawed his way to a bronze medal, but could not match Norwegian Olaf Tufte or Synek. Immediately after the final he began vomiting and needed medical treatment.

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