Rowing: Last chance saloon for Saiyidah

Her bid to become Singapore's first rower to qualify for the Olympics was dashed yesterday, but Saiyidah Aisyah has one final chance to carve out a place for herself in local sports history.

The 27-year-old has to win today's B final at the Fisa Asia and Oceania Continental Olympic Qualification Regatta in South Korea.

Saiyidah, the 2013 South-east Asia (SEA) Games rowing champion and 2015 SEA Games double bronze medallist, narrowly missed out yesterday, when she clocked 8min 13.13sec to finish fourth in the first semi-final of the 2,000m women's single sculls event at the Tangeum Lake in Chung-ju.

The top three - Taiwan's Huang Yi-ting (8:01.86), Iran's Mahsa Javar (8:05.08) and Kazakhstan's Svetlana Germanovich (8:07.12) - booked their tickets for the event at August's Rio Olympics and will battle it out in today's A final.

They will be joined by the top three in the other semi-final - South Korea's Kim Ye Ji (7:57.64), Vietnam's Pham Thi Hue (8:00.53) and Indonesia's Dewi Yuliawati (8:03.84), who also claimed an Olympic spot each.

With seven tickets available here for the Olympics, Aisyah has a final shot at glory in the B final, which starts at 10.10am (Singapore time).


She will be in Lane 4 and will take on the Philippines' Joanie Delgaco, Thailand's Phuttharaksa Neegree, Uzbekistan's Sevara Ganieva, Sri Lanka's Samaakhya Yavani de Zylva Gajanayake and Qatar's Tala Aladin Abujbara, who appears to be her fastest rival.

From the times recorded yesterday, Aisyah is faster than all the other contenders in today's B final, except for Tala Aladin, who finished fourth in her semi-final in 8:05.03.

However, competing three days in a row has taken its toll as the times recorded have been slower with each passing day.

Aisyah clocked 7:44.12 in Friday's heats and then 8:06.23 to win Saturday's repechage, but finished almost seven seconds slower yesterday.

She declined comment before today's B final to focus on her difficult task.

A speedy recovery coupled with a strong will will be the order of the day, as she works to be part of the Copacabana contests held at Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas in August.

This article was first published on April 25, 2016.
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