Team Singapore’s first ever Olympic rower, Saiyidah Aisyah, will race in the Women’s Single Sculls quarter-final on Tuesday at the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas venue and as she got ready for her latest challenge, we took the chance to ask her a few questions.
TeamSG rower Saiyidah Aisyah wearing her Olympics rings necklace. Photo: Sport Singapore
Q: I have to ask you about your Olympic rings necklace. I read that you threw away your original necklace during a low-point in form. Did you ever find it?
SA: No, I didn't.
Q: Was the new one a gift from someone? Why do you wear it?
SA: Yes, it was a gift. A friend from Sydney gave it to me. I wear it to serve as a reminder how much I really want to be in the Olympics because when times are hard, it is easy to forget why we start in the first place.
Q: Tell me a little about your Australian coach, Alan Bennett. How did you start working with him?
SA: He was introduced to me by Goken Sakamoto who used to coach the Singapore team voluntarily while he was working with the Singapore Sports Institute.
Q: What kind of coach is he?
SA: A perfectionist. He spots the smallest mistakes and is persistent in making sure I tackle the problem before focusing on something else to work on.
Q: You took a year unpaid sabbatical from your job, as a Student Development Officer at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, to train in Sydney. That’s a sacrifice - what has it been like?
SA: I am very grateful. I don't think it would have worked with any other employer. Ngee Ann Poly has been amazingly supportive of my dreams.
Q: What is your goal in these Games?
SA: To be in top 24 and to better my ranking in the Asian field. Which I have done. Yay! (I was 7th in Asia at the Qualification- now I'm top 3 in Asia).
Next up is to better improve in executing my race plans.
Q: How did you feel after qualifying for the quarter-finals?
Q: What is it like to be an Olympian? To be in the Athlete’s Village and so on?
SA: Unbelievable - being able to walk amongst the world’s best athletes and even rub shoulders with some of them. Knowing that you're representing the nation in this elite world stage - the feeling is indescribable. Tens of thousands of athletes attempt to qualify for the Games and only a handful get through. It is definitely an honour to be here.
Q: Have you had any memorable experiences here outside of comp?
SA: Yes. Meeting (New Zealand rugby player) Sonny B Williams!
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