One of our favorite Olympians is on his way to Paris!
Rower Robbie Manson, who represented New Zealand in the 2012 and 2016 Games, recently qualified for next summer’s Olympics at the World Rowing Championships in Serbia.
While qualifying for the Games is always special, the honor is especially sweet for Manson. He came back from retirement this summer, competing internationally for the first time in four years.
Manson and his partner, Ben Mason, finished 11th in the men’s double scull to secure New Zealand a spot.
“Reflecting on this campaign, it’s been a remarkable and somewhat unexpected ride,” wrote Manson on Instagram. “When I retired in 2019, returning to rowing was the furthest thing from my mind. However, at the end of last year, I dipped my oars back into the water ‘just for fun.’ It was a casual return, driven by my love for the sport. But as time went on, that casual involvement evolved into something more significant.”
Manson made his decision to return to rowing full-time in March, and hasn’t looked back.
“The past few months have been a whirlwind, filled with intense training, preparation, and camaraderie,” he wrote.
The world’s best time holder in the men’s single sculls –a 200-meter course that became the Olympic standard in 1912– Manson stepped away from the sport to prioritize his mental health.
“This is all I knew,” he said in an interview. “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.”
It took special circumstances for Manson to return, one of which was the opportunity to compete with Mason. The two met a few years ago when Manson spoke to Mason’s rowing team, and they’ve remained close ever since.
They made their debut in the World Rowing Cup two months ago, despite only competing in less than 10 rows as a duo.
But Manson and Mason’s lack of time together didn’t hurt. They finished sixth overall!
“Had an incredible time racing in Lucerne again after five years!,” posted Manson. “So many unknowns going into the race, considering Ben and I have only been rowing together for a short time and it’s been four years since my last international competition. But there were plenty of positives!”
The duo spent the rest of their summer training in Italy, before heading to Serbia for the championships.
“Rowing alongside Ben, a rising young talent, has been an absolute pleasure,” wrote Manson. “This was his first elite world championship, and he faced his own hurdles to be here. I couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve accomplished in such a short span of time.”
That’s high praise, considering Manson is an all-time great.
And he has coming out to thank.
He publicly came out as gay in 2016, and experienced his greatest athletic successes. Manson broke a world record and won an international male athlete of the year award in the years following his big announcement.
He was on such a roll, even a serious training accident couldn’t stop him.
“I have enjoyed the past four years more than the previous four and I think that has a lot to do with just being myself,” Manson wrote in an Outsports essay.
While it’s great to see Manson back on the water, an important question remains: What about his OnlyFans?!
“I joined OnlyFans. Now, before you jump to conclusions, let me clarify. My content on the platform is anything but adult entertainment,” he wrote on Outsports. “I promise no explicit content or shenanigans, just a fun and playful space where I can express myself creatively and promote body positivity, sensuality and self-acceptance.”
Luckily for us, Manson is still finding time for self-expression in the midst of his training. He updated his OnlyFans yesterday.
Phew! Off to Paris he goes!