Rowing: Saiyidah Aisyah ponders life after Aussie adventure

Saiyidah Aisyah is eager to find a new training base, after competing in September's World Rowing Championships. The rower, Singapore's first at the Olympics in Rio last year, has been living in Sydney since 2015.
Saiyidah Aisyah is eager to find a new training base, after competing in September's World Rowing Championships. The rower, Singapore's first at the Olympics in Rio last year, has been living in Sydney since 2015.TNP FILE PHOTO

Singapore rower seeks new base to spur her to next level before next year's Asian Games

Sydney has been her home and more importantly, her full-time training base since 2015 but national rower Saiyidah Aisyah is in search of new surroundings.

The 29-year-old returns to Singapore this week for a short break before heading to Europe next month, when the Olympian will compete in several races ahead of September's World Rowing Championships in Florida, United States.

Beyond that, Saiyidah is unclear of her plans and while she did not rule out a return to Australia, she was also keen to explore other options in a bid to push herself to the next level.

She had spent two months with the Vesper Boat Club in Philadelphia at the end of last year.

On her possible choices for a new training base, she said yesterday: "Wherever there is a good rowing team. I'm still in the midst of planning with my coach (Australian Alan Bennett), the Singapore Rowing Association and the Singapore Sports Institute."

The 2013 SEA Games lightweight single sculls (2,000m) champion enjoyed a productive stint in Sydney and was making great strides.

Not only did she become the first rower from Singapore to qualify for the Olympic Games, she also made it to the quarter-finals of the singles sculls event at last year's Rio Games.

She eventually finished 23rd out of 32 competitors and was the third-best among Asian rowers.

Her progress this season though, has been hampered by a dislocated shoulder that had kept her out of action for three months. She only recently returned to training on water.

She said: "This season is to get back into racing after a long time of not rowing and racing.

"Going through a low after the high in Rio was challenging but I guess that's the life of an athlete."

While rowing will not feature at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games in August, Saiyidah has her eye on a podium finish at next year's Asian Games in Indonesia.

She had finished last place in the women's lightweight single sculls at the 2014 Asiad in Incheon.

She said: "I really want to medal at the Asian Games and better my ranking in Tokyo (2020 Olympics).

"I want to continually improve myself to see how far I can go, how high I can reach.

"I also hope to see more people rowing because ultimately that is my aim - to develop the sport in the country."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2017, with the headline 'Saiyidah ponders life after Aussie adventure'. Print Edition | Subscribe