Log In

Reset Password

Rejuvenated Dara Alizadeh sets sights on another Olympic shot

First Prev 1 2 Next Last
Back on track: Dara Alizadeh claimed an encouraging 38th-place finish at the World Rowing Championships last week, his first international regatta since 2022

Bermuda rower Dara Alizadeh has had his passion for the sport reignited as he sets out to qualify for a second successive Olympic Games in Paris next year.

On the back of a highly respectable eighteenth-place finish in his first appearance at the rescheduled Games in Tokyo in 2021, the 30-year-old stepped away from the sport for a little more than a year.

However, watching on last year from the sidelines of the prestigious Henley Royal Regatta, held on the River Thames in England, Alizadeh knew the time was right to get back in single scull, with renewed ambition of returning to the sport’s biggest stage.

“I realised that I wasn’t having any fun, while everyone around me was enjoying themselves,” he said.

“All I wanted to do was to be competing again, so I definitely got the rowing bug back while I was on that shoreline watching on.

“It encouraged me to get back into it properly because getting to the Olympics again is definitely the ambition.”

While his determination may not have diminished over that time, Alizadeh concedes that he was shocked by just how much his physical aptitude to be race-ready had.

“Getting steadily back into things was a real eye-opener,” he added. “Physically in training I felt OK, but as things have ramped up, the challenge of having that time out of the boat became clear.

“It really showed me that you can do all the training you like, but getting back to that ability to be at your maximum in races is something else.

“Having that time away, especially with single sculling, you can lose that ability very quickly. I did some local races and I was getting blown out of the water; it was pretty frustrating.

“It just proved that you have to do everything right and not cut any corners. You have to do all the important things and really go those places in training that aren’t any fun.

“I’ve steadily got back into it, refocused and now I’m back in shape again.”

Having worked his way back into competitive fitness, Alizadeh’s first real step towards qualifying for the Olympics took him to Belgrade, Serbia, for the world championships last week.

Booking an automatic spot in Paris with a top-nine finish was never really a realistic prospect at this stage, but he was highly encouraged with 38th place overall, having finished second in the single sculls G final.

“Obviously you always want to finish as high as possible and I was no different, but overall I’m pretty happy with finishing in 38th,” he said.

“This was my first international regatta and it was a stark reminder of just how high the level is. Rowing in domestic races is one thing, but the world championships are just another level.

“I looked at this as a springboard for the next 12 months with the ambition of qualifying for the Olympic Games again. For me this was my first proper day back after having that year out after Tokyo, and I feel encouraged.”

Alizadeh’s full focus will be on the Americas rowing qualifier in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in March next year, incidentally the same stage that he sealed qualification to the previous Olympics.

Olympic aspirations: Dara Alizadeh is determined to return to the world’s biggest sporting stage having previously competed at the Games in Tokyo in 2021 (Photograph by Kageaki Smith)

Just as in 2021, a top-five finish in the single sculls discipline will see the Bermudian clinch one of the automatic qualifying spots from the region.

“I certainly feel like qualifying for the Olympics again is achievable,” said Alizadeh, who takes confidence from the Americas qualifier being held at a now familiar venue. “I definitely feel like I’ll be in a better place this time around than I was when I qualified before.

“Back then it was all a bit new and I was stepping into the unknown. I know what to expect at the venue now and I will also have a better idea of my main competition.

“I raced against a number of them at the world championships, so I know what I will be coming up against from within the region.

“Those qualifiers are the big one for me and I’m excited to start this new campaign to qualify for the Olympic Games.”

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published September 15, 2023 at 7:58 am (Updated September 15, 2023 at 7:22 am)

Rejuvenated Dara Alizadeh sets sights on another Olympic shot

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon