Rowing: Olympic eights champion Tim Mackintosh resets sights on single sculls at Paris

Olympic eights champion Tom Mackintosh didn't need long to understand that his immediate career path still remained on the water, not behind a desk.

Mackintosh, 26, helped turn around New Zealand's 'big boat' fortunes at Tokyo two years ago, stroking the Kiwi eight to a gold medal, after they missed a qualifying spot at the previous year's world championships and had to snatch the final place in the field at the last opportunity.

After that success, he and teammate Matt MacDonald broke away to form a pair that campaigned on the World Cup circuit and finished seventh at last year's championships, before Mackintosh decided to test his prospects on land.

"I took about four months' break from the sport and interned for an investment company in Auckland to see what professional life outside of sport was like," he told Newshub. "I came to the conclusion I wasn't going to make a career from investments between now and the Paris Olympics.

"I've invested a lot of my own time into the sport, and decided to come back and give it one last hitout for Paris.

"There was a bit of an epiphany. One day, I was sitting at my desk... I'm 6ft 6in [1.98m] and I just realised I wasn't built for this desk.

"My body was kind of rejecting the computer and the seat, so I thought I had assets there that I could use in the sport of rowing, why not use them as much as I can. You can work as much as you like when you're older, but you can only be a professional athlete for a finite amount of time."

Mackintosh has been named in the single scull for next month's World Cup regatta at Lucerne, Switzerland, followed by the world championships at Belgrade, Serbia. Since Mahe Drysdale's 2016 Olympic triumph, the seat has become something of a hot potato in the NZ programme.

Veteran Drysdale was initially replaced by worldrecordholder Robbie Manson, but battled for his spot, before eventually losing it to Jordan Parry at Tokyo. Parry could do no better than winning the C final.

NZ eight celebrate their Olympic gold at Tokyo
NZ eight celebrate their Olympic gold at Tokyo. Photo credit: Photosport

Manson and Parry were among those still chasing the seat this year, but signaled early that they would focus on double sculls. They have been named in separate boats with Ben Mason and Jack Ready respectively.

Mackintosh beat out rival Tom Murray in a best-of-three raceoff for the single sculls spot, with Murray slotting into a coxless four.

"It's a test for me," said Mackintosh. "I haven't raced single scull internationally, so it's very uncharted territory for me.

"My times domestically have been competitive, but you never know until you're lining up against the best scullers in the world how you'll fare in the field. This World Cup will give me an indication of where I'm at, where my strengths are, where my weaknesses are and what I need to work on to qualify this boat for the Olympic Games."

Drysdale has already offered to impart some of his two-time Olympic champion knowledge, while Mackintosh intends reaching out to Sydney Olympic gold medallist Rob Waddell.

The full squad for the World Cup at Lucerne is: 

Women’s Single Scull - Emma Twigg

Women’s Double Scull - Brooke Francis & Lucy Spoors

Women’s Double Scull - Laura Glen & Kate Haines

Women’s Coxless Pair - Catherine Layburn & Stella Clayton-Greene

Women’s Coxless Pair - Kirstyn Goodger & Alana Sherman

Women’s Coxless Four - Phoebe Spoors, Davina Waddy, Ella Cossill & Jackie Gowler

Lightweight Women’s Double Scull - Jackie Kiddle & Shannon Cox

Lightweight Women’s Single Scull - Rachael Kennedy

Men’s Single Scull - Thomas Mackintosh

Men’s Double Scull - Ben Mason & Robbie Manson

Men’s Double Scull - Jordan Parry & Jack Ready

Men’s Coxless Pair - Phillip Wilson & Dan Williamson

Men’s Coxless Pair - Thomas Russel & Ben Taylor

Men’s Coxless Four - Ollie Maclean, Logan Ullrich, Matthew MacDonald & Thomas Murray

Lightweight Men’s Double Scull - Matthew Dunham & Chris Stockley

Lightweight Men’s Single Scull - Finn Hamill