Rowing: Saiyidah one race away from booking Games berth

Saiyidah Aisyah competes in the 17th Asian Games Incheon 2014 Lightweight Women's Single Sculls Final A event.
Saiyidah Aisyah competes in the 17th Asian Games Incheon 2014 Lightweight Women's Single Sculls Final A event. PHOTO: ST FILE

The journey that has taken national rower Saiyidah Aisyah to the brink of her Olympic dream reaches its climax today at the Fisa Asia and Oceania Continental Olympic Qualification Regatta.

The 27-year-old qualified for this morning's B final of the 2,000m women's single sculls event after finishing fourth in yesterday's semi-finals, clocking 8min 13.13sec.

She needed to finish in the top three to advance to the A final at the Tangeum Lake in Chungju, South Korea but will instead contest the B final.

Saiyidah, the 2013 SEA Games champion (2,000m lightweight single sculls) and double bronze medallist (500m & 1,000m) at last year's Games in Singapore, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The A final will be contested by six rowers from Kazakhstan, South Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, Iran and Indonesia.

South Korea was the fastest qualifier with a time of 7:57.64.

The remaining six, including Saiyidah, will compete in the B final scheduled for 10.10am (Singapore time).

The top seven rowers across today's finals will earn a spot at the Rio Olympics in August.

Saiyidah moved to Sydney last year and has spent most of her life savings in order to train full-time. Should she succeed, she will become the Republic's first rower to qualify for the Summer Games.

She clocked the eighth quickest time in the semi-finals, just behind Kazakhstan's Svetlana Germanovich (8:07.12).

In the earlier repechage round, Saiyidah finished first in 8:06.23.

Geraldine Lee and Lim Heem Wei became Singapore's first canoeist and gymnast respectively to qualify for the Olympics at the London Games in 2012.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 25, 2016, with the headline 'Saiyidah one race away from booking Games berth'. Print Edition | Subscribe