Back-to-back wins for Alizadeh’s Cambridge
Dara Alizadeh hailed his “incredible” Cambridge University crew after they recorded consecutive wins in the Boat Race for the first time in 20 years yesterday.
The Bermudian, who was also part of last year’s triumphant crew, helped the Blue Boat cross the finish line on the River Thames in a time of 16mins 57sec, two seconds faster than Oxford University.
Alizadeh, the Cambridge University Boat Club president, told Cambridgeshire Live. “It wasn’t all plain sailing, though, with the resilient Oxford crew pushing Cambridge all away, and never letting them pull as far ahead as they would have liked.
“The focus of the race was just taking it section by section and being aware of the situation.
“All I was saying was just little ‘yeahs’ and things to keep the energy up. I was just a piece of it. The guys were just incredible, all nine of us [including cox Matthew Holland]. Everyone put in absolute commitment to this.”
The 26-year-old, who was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, but grew up in Harrington Sound, said the thought of back-to-back wins had not even crossed his mind in the build-up to the annual race.
“Now’s the time we can talk about that kind of stuff and it’s the opportunity to look at the whole picture,” Alizadeh said.
“It’s always said that history doesn’t matter. This is our year and we make our story.
“The past has nothing to do with this result, this was just the product of clear focus and rhythm. Now that it’s been said though, it’s pretty cool.”
Alizadeh has one year remaining on his course and could be in line for three wins in a row.
“We’ll see,” said Alizadeh, who won a silver medal in the eights for the United States Under-23 at the World Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
“I think we’ve got a lot of guys coming up. I think, for now, we’re going to enjoy now. But then it’s going to be right on to next year, and next year starts tomorrow.”
The Hughes Hall Education, Policy and International Development student also heaped praise on Rob Baker, the chief coach, for his contribution to the team’s win.
Baker took the reins as the Blue Boat’s chief coach this season, having held the position at the women’s boat for six years, guiding them to victory in 2017 and 2018.
“A transition can be difficult, but he’s done a tremendous job coming right in and putting his programme in [place],” Alizadeh added. “I can’t say enough good things. We owe Rob a lot.”
James Cracknell, a double Olympic champion, become the oldest person to compete in the Varsity boat race.
The 46-year-old retired from competitive rowing in 2006 but qualified for the event because he is studying a Master of Philosophy degree in human evolution at the university.
“I surprisingly did not regret my decision to do this at any point in the race,” said Cracknell, who won Olympic gold medals at Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004.
“At the start I thought, ‘I’ve missed this; I haven’t felt this for 20 years’.”
Cambridge University also beat Oxford University in the women’s race yesterday. The Light Blues finished in 18:47, 15 seconds shy of the women’s record.