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Battling Pearson reaches rowing quarter-finals

Excellent debut: Shelley Pearson enjoyed a strong second half to her race this morning (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Shelley Pearson opened Bermuda’s contribution to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro with a sterling third-place finish in the women’s single sculls this morning.

The 25-year-old battled through the choppy waters of Lagoa Rodrigo de Freita in the final heat to complete the 2,000 metres race in 8min 22.15sec.

Although good enough for only third, which carries qualification to the quarter-finals on Tuesday, Pearson’s time was the sixth fastest of the 32 scullers in the competition and might have won all but two of the six heats.

The Bermudian, who sprang to local notoriety last year by appearing for Oxford in the first Women’s Boat Race to be contested on the Thames, was last of five after the opening 500 metres. But she battled backed past the fast-starting rower from Trinidad & Tobago, Felice Chow, and into second place before losing an exciting tussle with Ekaterina Karsten, of Belarus, who clocked 8:21.21.

Emma Twigg, a medal favourite from New Zealand, won the heat in an impressive 8:17.02, but the fastest of the lot was Kenia Lechuga Alanis, of Mexico, who cut through the Lagao waters in 8:11.44 in heat one.