Mahe Drysdale wins Gold in London 2012

Drysdale had won five world titles, but for him there was unfinished business in his brilliant career so far. He could well have won the gold medal in Beijing four years ago, but fell ill during the critical week and in the end rowed valiantly to scramble away with a bronze.

This time the big fellow made no mistake. He faced a stern test from long-time rival Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic, but by halfway the New Zealander was ahead by 0.19s.

Drysdale really put the hammer down in the third quarter and stretched his lead to 1.40s. It seemed the gold was his if he could maintain his rhythm. Like the champion he is, Drysdale never faltered. He finished in 6min 57.82s, with Synek back in 6min 59.37s and Briton Alan Campbell third in 7min 03.28s. The effort Drysdale had expended was obvious immediately afterwards.

He made his way to the pontoon and while he didn’t collapse, he lay down and was tended to for a few minutes. Drysdale said he felt amazed and relieved.

“My career was incomplete without this, and I couldn’t quite believe it,” he said.

“It was one of the toughest races of my life. I had absolutely nothing in that last bit. I knew I had the medal, but I just had to hold on.: Drysdale said Synek was chasing him down near the end.

“I’ve been waiting for this for 12 years.

“I had all my family and friends here, and the crowd was amazing – this is an experience I’ll remember for the rest of my life. This is really what I needed to achieve for my career.”

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