Team Singapore’s Saiyidah Aisyah made a fantastic start to her Olympics quarter-final in the women’s single sculls on Tuesday but in the end had to settle for sixth place and a spot in the C and D semi-finals.
TeamSG rower Saiyidah Aisyah during her quarter finals. Photo: Sport Singapore
Saiyidah was fourth at the 1000 metres mark, prompting the public address announcer to alert the large crowd at the Lagao Rodrigo de Freitas to her progress.
Indeed Team Singapore’s first ever Olympic rower was even ahead of Asian Games champion Kim Ye-Ji of South Korea at the half-way point but she faded in the latter stages.
In calmer water than in her heat on Saturday, Saiyidah posted a time of seven minutes and 56 seconds, noticeably faster than the 8:44.71 run in the choppier conditions in her opening race.
“It was alright - different conditions, different competitors. I made a really good start, it felt really good, I was calm and then half-way through I think I just lost focus,” said Saiyidah.
“Racing is simple – it’s not easy but it’s simple in that you are meant to focus on just one thing and then execute it. But I think I didn’t execute my race-plan when I crossed the half-way mark, I was focusing too much on other stuff, how imbalanced the boat was, how dense my arms were, so I lost focus,” she added.
The Singaporean, who has spent the past year training in Sydney with her coach Alan Bennett, is clearly revelling in the atmosphere of the Summer Games and her now well-noted Olympic rings necklace was prominently placed around her neck.
“Of course the necklace stays, I am still an Olympian,” she quipped in response to a question about whether she would keep wearing the jewellery.
“It's amazing, getting to meet all these great Olympians, getting to race next to world champions and Olympic champions, see how I match against them. It felt good to keep up with the Korean girl who was first in qualifying for the Games,” she said.
Did competing so closely give her inspiration towards one day being Asian champion herself? “That's my aim for sure,” she said.
The immediate aim is to finish as high-up in the 13-24 rankings as possible and she says that Bennett has made it clear she has to stick to her game-plan and keep her focus.
“I have to execute my game-plan. My coach has been harsh on me but that’s because he knows I am able to do it. I have to really believe that I can do it and then everything will be ok."
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