14 Aug 2016

Drysdale takes gold in gripping photo finish

4:01 pm on 14 August 2016

Rio 2016 Olympics - Rower Mahe Drysdale said it was agonising waiting to hear whether he'd won gold in Rio after the closest finish in Olympic rowing history.

Drysdale has won New Zealand's second gold medal of the Games with a dramatic photo finish victory in the men's single sculls.

Drysdale went into the final as the defending Olympic champion and title favourite but was almost upstaged by Croatia's Damir Martin.

The race appeared to unfold perfectly for Drsydale, who sat in third place up until the 1000m mark when he made his traditional push for the lead.

By the 1500m mark Drysdale was in front by almost a second and he appeared to have the race under control.

But a withering burst by the Croat seemingly caught Drysdale right on on the line.

Mahe Drysdale and his daughter Bronte admire his gold medal after winning the men's single sculls.

Mahe Drysdale and his daughter Bronte admire his gold medal after winning the men's single sculls. Photo: AFP

Drysdale said he thought he had the win secured with 500m to go.

"Things were going really well at that point and I was extending my lead over the field and that was really what I'd done in London," he said.

"I knew that I just had to try to make the gap as big as I could and that was all going to plan, and then Dimir had other ideas and he threw in a pretty amazing sprint."

Mahe Drysdale edges ahead of Croatia's Damir Martin in the men's sculls final.

Mahe Drysdale edges ahead of Croatia's Damir Martin in the men's sculls final. Photo: AFP

There was a nervous wait for a minute and a half as the judges checked the photo finish - before awarding the race to Drysdale but crediting both rowers with the same time.

Drysdale said he had no idea which way the result was going to go.

"We sort of looked at each other and he said 'what happened?' and I said 'no idea'.

"We had to wait what seemed like about 20 minutes but I think it was three or four, and it was a pretty excruciating wait."

It's New Zealand second rowing gold in Rio with Drysdale joining the men's pair of Hamish Bond and Eric Murray at the top of the podium and moving New Zealand up to on the medal table - with two gold and six silver medals in total.

Second placed Martin said "it's one of the perfect ones, where I did 100 percent, even more. The last 100 metres was incredible, the shouts from the spectators were crazy."

- RNZ

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