Rowing: Kiwi Robbie Manson relishes return to sport after three-year retirement

Robbie Manson says enjoyment will determine just how long his return to rowing lasts.

The former single sculler retired in 2020 to prioritise his mental health and never planned on coming back, but now in the men's double, Manson believes a better balance will go a long way to keeping a smile on his face.

As the rain pelts down, Manson jokes he maybe should've stayed retired.

"Yeah, it wasn't great out there today," he said.

Yet, there he is, three years after hanging up his oars, back at Lake Karapiro - a place for so long, he called home - the competitive itch needing to be scratched one last time.

"I'm getting older, and then realising I can't do this forever and it's a privilege to be able to do this, so making the most of the opportunity to give it a crack," said Manson, who still holds the world single scull record in the single scull.

Three years ago, he had fallen out of love with the sport.

"I was first in the elite team when I was 19 years old and this is all I knew," Manson said. "It was really scary to step away for a lot of reasons, because I didn't know anything else, but I also knew that I needed to."

Now back with a smile on his face, Manson has teamed up with Ben Mason in the men's double. The single, for now, is in the past.

"It's a tough boat," Manson explained. "If you're not in the front of the A final and really competitive, then it's not actually that enjoyable being out there." 

That enjoyment is his priority.

"For the last six months, I've had people asking me, 'What's the goal, what's the plan?' and I've just said, 'Enjoy it', that's what it comes down to."

Even when it's dark and pouring rain, as long as he's having fun, Manson's going nowhere.