Dara Alizadeh into repechage after finishing fourth in Olympic heat
Bermuda rower Dara Alizadeh’s Olympic debut ended with a fourth-place finish in the men’s single sculls preliminary heats at the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo last night.
Alizadeh completed the 2,000-metre distance in 7min 34.96sec but needed to place in the top three of his five-man heat to book an automatic place in the quarter-finals on Monday.
Instead, he will return to the water today in the “second chance” repechage where 14 of the 32-rower field do battle for the chance to fill six places remaining in the four quarter-final heats.
Alizadeh began well without ever threatening early leader Mindaugas Griskonis, of Lithuania, or Trevor Jones, the ultimate heat winner from Canada.
The Bermudian was third after 500 metres but only 0.28 seconds clear of Turkey’s Onat Kazakli.
The Turk accelerated past Alizadeh by the halfway mark after a 1:45.86 second 500, which was a full five seconds quicker than the Bermudian’s 1:50.96.
The writing was on the wall at that point, and the gap to third grew to almost 11 seconds at 1,500 metres, at which point Alizadeh was an isolated fourth.
Jones was off in the distance, winning in 7:04.12, with Griskonis second in 7:05.88 and Kazakli third in 7:20.11.
Far behind in fifth was Husein Alireza, of Saudi Arabia, in 7:54.18.
Alizadeh will be in the second of three repechage heats on Friday and has been matched with Privel Hinkati, of Benin, Jan Fleissner, of the Czech Republic, and Jorge Ignacio Vasquez, of the Dominican Republic.
On the evidence of their performances in the heats, the Bermudian is second-quickest — albeit a ways slower than Fleissner (7:16.56) — and should fancy his chances of reaching the quarter-finals.
If not, there are a series of consolation races that would keep him involved in competitive racing until next Thursday.