Rower Dara Alizadeh unperturbed by second Olympic qualifying delay
Dara Alizadeh is determined to remain positive despite seeing his quest to qualify for the rescheduled Olympic Games in Tokyo next summer delayed once again.
Having readjusted after the disappointment of the Olympics being postponed in March because of Covid-19, just weeks before his initial Americas qualifier in Rio de Janeiro, the 27-year-old single sculling rower has been dealt a further blow with the event in Brazil being called off for a second time.
Last week the World Rowing postponed the Americas Continental Olympic and Paralympic Qualification Regatta – provisionally planned to be held in late January – again owing to the ongoing threat of the virus. More than 175,000 Covid-19 deaths and 6.4 million cases have been reported in Brazil.
A new date between late February and late March is now under consideration.
“It’s pretty frustrating to see the qualifier has been postponed again,” said Alizadeh, who is part Bermudian, British, American and Iranian. “It’s the reality of the situation at the moment and I completely understand but it’s still frustrating.
“It’s a really difficult situation. It was hard seeing it originally delayed in March, then we had a period of not knowing what was happening and then we got a new date.
“That gave me a renewed energy and clearer plan in terms of training again with a purpose. Now to hear it’s been postponed again is really hard on a personal level.
“It means training becomes harder mentally again because you have to gauge what phase you’re in and mentally it is just hard.
“To have it postponed twice is really tough and it’s hard not to think negatively, but I know there is still work to do.”
Despite the setback, Alizadeh, who is undertaking a philosophy degree at Cambridge University, is now attempting to refocus his mentality as he attempts fulfil his Olympic aspirations in Rio.
Once again, Alizadeh needs a top-five finish to avoid the final qualifiers in Lucerne, Switzerland, in May, which he would have to win to achieve his ambition.
“Every competitor is dealing with the same issues and how I react is up to me alone,” he added. “I’m focusing on taking the extra time to get physically and technically stronger for when the qualifier does eventually come around.
“It’s just another part of the process. I’ve got no choice but to adapt. Negativity about the situation won’t change anything, I have to be ready for any situation.
“The worst-case scenario is that I’m not prepared. I can’t use the Covid situation as an excuse for not qualifying.
“There’s hurdles that we have to get over because once you’re on the start line nothing else matters. If I don’t qualify, it will be on me.
“If things aren’t working, I have to find another solution; that’s my mentality at the moment.
“The final qualifier is there if I need it, but my goal is to qualify at the first opportunity. Historically, the final qualifier is ridiculously tough, so I don’t want to have to rely on that.”