Tokyo Olympics 2021: Olivia Loe dropped as last minute shake-up ends world champion rowing combo

An 11th-hour Olympic selection shake-up in the NZ Rowing squad has brought an end to a world champion pairing.

Olivia Loe has been dropped from the double scull boat, where she won two world titles, as the national selectors eye their best chance of claiming a medal at Tokyo.

Loe still manages to appreciate what is important in life, with her niece on hand to celebrate her section in the squad - just not in the crew she was hoping for.

"It's a very new change, which only happened this week, and I need to take time to look back and reflect," Loe tells Newshub.

Loe won two world championships with Brook Donoghue in the double and, together, they qualified that boat for the Olympics.

But Loe's speed is no longer seen as quick enough and she was moved to the quad in favour of Hannah Osborne.

"Speed is our bread and butter, and we need to know we are going to be fronting up with the best combination," NZ Rowing high performance manager Judith Hamilton tells Newshub.

Donoghue feels for her teammate of five years, but is excited for a pairing she feels gives the double the best chance of medalling.

"The competitiveness of our squad is what's led to our success, so this is another example of that," Donoghue says. "Your seat is never safe."

No-one knows that more than Mahe Drysdale. The two-time gold medallist announced his retirement on Thursday, knowing he wouldn't be selected for a fourth games.

"When I came into the team, Mahe was the one performaner that I was, like, 'that is what it takes to be a top international rower'," says reigning Olympic pairs champion Hamish Bond, selected in the eight this time round. 

Jordan Parry will now be the one trying to meet those standards. The 25-year-old carries with him the weight of expectation to Tokyo, with the single scull synonymous with Olympic success.

"It's a place of expectation and pressure, and you enter this boat and you realise that," Parry says. "You realise, 'wow, there is a reputation of amazing single scullers'."

As one door closes, another opens, as a new crop of Kiwi rowers look to make their Olympic mark.

Watch the full story above.