One of New Zealand’s greatest Olympians has announced his retirement from rowing.

Four time Olympian and three-time Olympic medallist Mahé Drysdale leaves behind one of New Zealand’s most impressive Olympic legacies, having won gold at the Rio 2016 and London 2012 Games, as well as bronze at Beijing 2008.

Several of the 42-year-old’s Olympic medals have been earnt in dramatic circumstances. In Rio, the race went to a photo finish, with Drysdale beating Croatia's Damir Martin by just seven one-thousandths of a second.

In Beijing, Drysdale was struck by a gastro bug several hours before the final. Upon finishing he collapsed and was taken to the medical tent. He had to be carried to the medal ceremony.

Alongside his Olympic medals the 1.99-metre-tall Drysdale has won five world titles. His performances on and off the water led to him receiving the honour of leading the New Zealand Team into the Beijing Olympic Games Opening Ceremony as team flagbearer.

NZOC CEO Kereyn Smith thanked Drysdale for his contribution to rowing and the Olympic movement.

“Mahé has created New Zealand history and inspired countless New Zealanders with his amazing Olympic performances,” said Smith.

“For the last two-decades he’s been at the forefront of rowing and has shown time and time again what an amazing competitor he is.

“Aside from his achievements on the water Mahé has always been a leader within our team and within rowing. He will be missed and we thank him for his amazing legacy.”

Drysdale was born in Melbourne and lived in England until he was 11 years old. He took up rowing at 18 after having previously favoured canoe polo, at which he represented New Zealand. 

Drysdale also represented New Zealand at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games in the coxless four, with the crew placing 5th. 

Drysdale has won numerous awards during his long career. In 2009 he was the International Rowing Federation's male Rower of the Year. He won the Halberg Supreme Award in 2006 and was Sportsman of the Year in 2006, 07, 09 and 12. He was awarded the Lonsdale Cup by the New Zealand Olympic Committee in 2009. Drysdale was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2009 New Year honours.

He is based in Cambridge where he lives with his wife, Olympic bronze medallist rower Juliette Haigh, and their three children.

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