London, July 26 (IANS) Five-time rowing world champion in men's single sculls Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand is recovering from a cycling accident and has set his sights on his first Olympic gold medal.
The 34-year-old had a cycling accident right before the third World Cup in Munich of Germany in June, reports Xinhua.
"It's all pretty good. It's a little painful when I row, but you just have to row through the pain. It was a joint injury. When you tear ligaments, recovery is always slow," he said after his training session Wednesday in Eton Dorney rowing centre.
Drysdale won three world titles in succession before the Beijing Olympic Games. But only a week before the final, he had a severe gastrointestinal infection and was only able to seize a bronze medal.
After the Beijing Games, Drysdale went on to win 2009 and 2011 world championships. In 2010, he settled for a silver in the worlds. So he remains a hot favourite for the Olympic gold in London.
On his main rival Ondrej Synek of Czech Republic, Drysdale said: "It's been a long time since our last race, the Holland Beker Regatta in Amsterdam, so we're definitely on equal terms."
He also keeps his eyes on Marcel Hacker of Germany, Alan Campblee of Britain, and reigning Olympic champion Olaf Tufte of Norway.
Angel Fournier Rodriguez of Cuba is another opponent he is looking out for. "In Bled of Slovenia at the 2011 world championships, he was very good in the heats and the quarterfinals (Rodrigues finally finished in eighth place)."
Drysdale began rowing at university of Auckland at the age of 18. Then he gave up rowing to concentrate on his studies, but resumed the sport after watching fellow New Zealander Rob Waddell win gold medal at the 2000 Olympic Games.
Drysdale started competing at World Cup level in 2002, in the New Zealand coxless four. After the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, where they finished in fifth place, Drysdale switched to single sculls. He won the 2005 world championships at Gifu of Japan and then began his legendary rowing career.