TOKYO, Japan – Battling Bermuda rower Dara Alizadeh has booked his place in the quarter-finals of the Olympic men’s single sculls over the 2,000-metre Sea Forest Waterway course on Friday.
Dropped into the second-chance repechage after finishing fourth in his heat 24 hours earlier, 27-year-old Alizadeh faced a series of three heats to determine the six who will complete the 24-man quarter-final field, and stamped his authority on the top-two goal from the outset despite a slightly slower finishing time of seven minutes, 35.90 seconds.
Alizadeh, the younger half of Bermuda’s two-strong Olympic team and making his Games debut, tracked heat winner Jan Fleissner of the Czech Republic from the start and pulled clear of Jorge Ignacio Vasquez of the Dominican Republic, in third, at one stage opening up a 10-second lead.
Fleissner took the heat in 7:29.90, his 13-second drop-off from the day before reflected in the lack of recovery time the rowers had before getting back out on the course. Vasquez finished in 7:42:83 while Privel Hinkati of Benin was fourth in 7:55.93.
Alizadeh lost just under a second compared to his time in his opening heat, which he completed in 7:34:96 and the fourth-place finish which dumped him into the repechage where 14 of the 32-rower field battled for the chance to fill six places.
The prospect of a full day’s rest before the quarter-finals was removed when organisers brought the schedule forward in anticipation of bad weather early next week.
Alizadeh, who has an Iranian father and Bermudian mother, has been drawn in the second quarter-final, where he will face a rematch with Canadian Trevor Jones and Onat Kazakli of Turkey, who qualified directly from the preliminary heat.
The others in the six-man field are Sverri Nielsen of Denmark, Alexander Vyazovkin of the Russian Federation, and Peter Purcell-Gilpin of Zimbabwe.
The top three will advance to the semi-finals.
Bermuda’s main medal hope in her fourth Games appearance is 33-year-old two-time former women’s triathlon world champion Flora Duffy, who is due to race on Monday – weather permitting – and hoping to add to the island’s single Olympic medal, a bronze won by heavyweight boxer Clarence Hill 45 years ago in Montreal.