6 Jul 2013

Azerbaijani beats NZ Olympic champion

9:39 am on 6 July 2013

The Olympic single sculls rowing champion Mahe Drysdale has been beaten at the Henley Royal Regatta.

Drysdale was the favourite but lost out to Aleksandar Aleksandrov from Azerbaijan in front of thousands of champagne-fuelled spectators lining the banks of the Thames.

British Olympic bronze medallist Alan Campbell survived a false start to win through to the semi-finals of the annual one on one knockoute race, while Drysdale says his entry was the opportunity to gauge what he needs to do to get back into shape for Rio in 2016, following his long layoff since the Olympics in London.

Established in 1839 before international or national rowing associations evolved, Henley abides by its own rules for the sport, but enjoys the recognition of rowing's leading bodies.

Unlike the multi-lane courses at the Olympics, competitors race only one other boat at a time along a course of a mile and 550 yards, a bit longer than the standard international distance of 2000 metres.

There are 20 events in total, comprising challenges for crews of eight, four, two and single sculls.