New Zealand rowing gold medallist Mahe Drysdale will attempt to go back-to-back at the Rio Olympics.
Drysdale conquered crippling nerves to claim Olympic gold in the single sculls in London and will now attempt to join Sir Peter Snell and Val Adams in winning two successive gold medals.
"This decision has always revolved around one question: 'What will it take to win in Rio?' I believe this will give me my best chance of delivering my desired goal in Rio," Drysdale said.
The 34-year-old however will take a six month sabbatical from rowing and will be back in the boat at Lake Karapiro for trials in July 2013, aiming to gain boat selection for the 2013 Rowing World Championships being held in Chungju, South Korea in August 2013.
The sabbatical means he will miss the World Cup Regattas.
"After twelve solid years and three consecutive Olympic campaigns, it is time to take some time out of rowing to recharge physically and mentally," the single sculling champion said.
"I have thoroughly thought through my options, asking and answering a number of questions and consulting a number of people along the way. While I have achieved everything I have ever wanted to in rowing and it culminated in Olympic Gold in London, I have found the drive, desire and determination to go after a second Olympic Gold in Rio."
Drysdale thanked Rowing New Zealand for the support in allowing him the time to come to his decision.
"While being supportive, I understand my place in the team is no way secure and I, like every other member of the New Zealand Rowing team, will have to prove myself to the selectors on my return in July and right through to 2016," he said.
Drysdale added: "rowing is a tough sport, over the past twelve years I have trained at least twice a day, six days a week, eleven months each year. This break will give me a change to travel and complete some alternative challenges."
Drysdale intends to stay fit by training for the Speights Coast to Coast and by completing an Ironman in May. He also hopes to participate in the NZPGA Championships at the Hills as well as race at the Royal Henley Regatta.
Six out of the nine rowing Olympic medallists will be back into training by January 2013, while the remaining three - Drysdale, Juliette Haigh, and Storm Uru - will pursue new challenges. Haigh retired earlier in December, and Uru is taking a break from rowing to gain work experience.
He hopes to complete an MBA at Cambridge University, where he will continue his rowing and will trial for the Boat Race. Mahé Drysdale will complete a six month sabbatical and return to rowing.
Mahé Drysdale has won two Olympic medals in the men's single sculls: bronze in Beijing 2008 and gold in London 2012. Mahé is also a five-time world champion (2005, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011).