Olympic qualifying bids to continue in the new year
Triathlete Flora Duffy will again lead Bermuda’s medal hopes at the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics next year, with equestrian Annabelle Collins having already reached the qualifying standard.
Duffy was in the eight-member Bermuda team for the 2016 Olympics in Rio where she finished eighth in her event.
Collins qualified for Tokyo on her mount Joyero VG by claiming one of the region’s four spots up for grabs, finishing second on points behind Yvonne Muñiz, of the Dominican Republic.
Collins will become only the second Bermudian to compete in dressage at the Olympics after Suzanne Dunkley, who represented the island in Barcelona in 1992 and Atlanta in 1996.
Reaching the pinnacle of her sport was an long held ambition of Collin,s who narrowly missed out on qualifying for the London Games in 2012.
“I’ve had a few attempts at qualifying, but I haven’t really had a horse like I have now,” Collins told The Royal Gazette after qualifying in March. “Joyero is a fantastic horse; it’s about having the right horse at the right time.”
Local athletes have just over four months to reach the qualifying standards in their respective sports, before the team is finalised for the July 23-August 8 Games. The Olympics were delayed for a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but will continue to carry the title “Tokyo 2020” for branding and marketing purposes.
Athletes are facing further challenges in their bids to qualify for Tokyo with various sporting events being impacted by a spike in Covid cases around the world. There was also an increase in Japan recently.
“We won’t have a finalised team, unfortunately, until about May,” Brenda Dale, chef de mission for the Bermuda team, said yesterday.
“We have two people who we know have qualified. I have to check if we have the official word on Flora, though there is no doubt Flora will make it.
“We do have equestrian Annabelle Collins who is official.”
Long jumper Tyrone Smith also has his sights on qualifying again for the Games, having been a part of the 2016 team, while Dara Alizadeh, a rower who is studying in Britain, is another who as aspirations of wearing Bermuda colours in Japan.
“He was supposed to have his qualification in early January but it has been moved several times,” Dale explained.
“It all depends on the sports being able to do their final qualifications. But it definitely does appear that the Olympic Games will be a go ahead.
“It won’t be the same Olympic Games, no doubt. They have a number of counter measures and will encourage all athletes to have a vaccination, but they are not going to make it mandatory. At least that’s what is being said as of today.
“Everything is kind of fluid, but they certainly have everything in order, in terms of facilities. They are encouraging the athletes to be in the village four to five days before their events and then leaving thereafter.”
Alizadeh deferred the final year of his philosophy degree at Cambridge University this year to focus on Tokyo, only to have the Games postponed. He has returned to his studies while training with the Light Blues’ rowing team as he builds towards the qualifiers.
“I’ve had time off from my degree and I kind of want to get back and finish off my studies and at least be reconnected with it,” he told The Royal Gazette in September.
“I’m going back to finish my final year, train [with the rowing team] and do my thing.”
Once again, Alizadeh needs a top-five finish to avoid having to put it all on the line in the final qualifiers in Lucerne, Switzerland, in May, which he would have to win to achieve his Olympic ambition.