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Pearson qualifies for Olympic Games

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Bermudian and proud: Pearson qualified for the Olympics at a regatta in Chile

Shelley Pearson is the latest Bermuda athlete to qualify for this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio.

Pearson became the regional champion today after winning the Latin American Olympic Continental Qualification Regatta in Curauma, Chile — her one and only shot at qualifying for the Summer Games.

The 24-year-old is the first Bermudian to qualify for the Olympics in rowing since Jim Butterfield, the father of two-times Olympic triathlete Tyler Butterfield, in Munich 1972.

Pearson, who only had to finish today’s race to qualify for Rio, was about 250 metres behind the leader before she powered her way to victory with a sprint finish.

She finished the race in a time of 7min 42.0008sec ahead of Brazil’s Fabiana Beltrameabiana in 7:44.573 and Mexico’s Kenia Lechuga Alenis in 7:46.511.

The daughter of Kevin Pearson, the former May 24 Half-Marathon Derby winner, prepared for the regatta at a training camp in Italy as well as taking part in sessions on the London Olympics course in Dorney Lake.

Pearson, who is studying for a master’s degree in child development at Oxford University in England, became the first Bermudian to row in the prestigious University Boat Races last year.

The Bermudians to have already qualified for the Rio Games are sailor Cecilia Wollmann, long jumper Tyrone Smith and sprinter Tre Houston. Triathlete Flora Duffy, who is ranked twelfth in the ITU Olympic qualification, after a series of superb performances over the past two years, has all but qualified for the competition, which runs from August 5 to 21.

Top of the podium: Bermudian Pearson
In motion: Pearson powers her way to victory