Dara Alizadeh wins time-trial at Metropolitan Regatta
Dara Alizadeh enjoyed an encouraging performance ahead of the Olympic Games by claiming victory at The Metropolitan Regatta on Saturday.
The Bermudian rower, who booked his place in Tokyo by clinching one of five qualifying spots in the single sculls discipline at the Americas rowing qualifier in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in March, competed in the time-trial category on Dorney Lake, in Buckinghamshire — the location of the London 2012 rowing events.
Not only did the 27-year-old book a direct spot in the finals by winning the open-style qualifier, but he went on to secure first place in the eight-boat A final to enjoy the perfect return to the water.
While Alizadeh was delighted with victory, he admits he was far more satisfied with his overall performance and opportunity to put into practice a more relaxed mindset ahead of this summer’s Games.
“It was really great to be competing in a regatta again and obviously I’m really happy with the result,” he said. “It was great to be able to progress on from the previous regatta and, while it obviously a smaller pool of competition, it’s great to win any individual event.
“A win is always nice but for me personally I was more satisfied with how I performed and the way I managed to execute exactly what I wanted. It was more about going through the process rather than the overall result.
“Obviously, the end goal will always be the overall result, but for me it was important to focus on the process and do things in the right way rather than be distracted and stressed about the result.
“I just wanted to make sure I was happy in everything I had done and that I didn’t come off the water with any niggling feelings. It’s funny because I didn’t even realise I had won until people made me aware.
“It’s important to get every opportunity possible to practise and learn to be more relaxed about what I need to do. From that point of view I was delighted and it gave me confidence in what I can do.
“Obviously the stakes were not as high as in Rio de Janeiro for the Americas qualifier, and so it was more about thinking about the overall process and progressing in other aspects, which is also important.
“One of the major things is that I’m trying to enjoy the sport again. I lost a bit of that over the last 18 months or so, and so for me it’s great to be enjoying it again.”
With the start of the Games now just 45 days away, Alizadeh — who is in the midst of trying to complete his philosophy degree at Cambridge University — will compete in one final regatta, the British University Nationals, from June 24 to 26 in Nottingham, before focusing his full attention on representing Bermuda in Tokyo.
“Obviously, my ultimate focus is on Tokyo and the more practice I can get the better to build up my confidence in what I’m doing,” he added.
“Unfortunately for me, I’m currently doing my exams and dissertation, so the coming weeks are going to be really busy. However, once all that is done, I can focus solely on rowing again.
“I will probably have one more big race, which is the British University Nationals, and that probably be my final regatta ahead of the Olympics.
“That will be my last realistic chance for any final preparation and to put things in place. I’m aiming to step on again from the Metropolitan Regatta.”