At the beginning of the Olympic Games there will be another Penn rower: Dara Alizadeh will start in the single scull for Bermuda.
Alizadeh, who graduated from Penn in 2015, will be only the third female rower in Olympic history to represent Bermuda at the Games, alongside Jim Butterfield (Munich 1972) and Shelley Pearson (Rio 2016).
In addition to his rowing duties, Alizadeh was also the one who held the Bermudian flag at the opening ceremonies on Friday.
“It’s hard to put into words, it’s the dream,” he told the Royal Gazette. “To be able to compete here alone is a dream within a dream [and of] yourself. Then it is like a super dream to be the standard bearer! I couldn’t have imagined that at any point in my life! ”
Alizadeh qualified for the Games after finishing third in the B-final of the American Rowing Qualifier held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in March. To secure a spot in the Olympics, he had to get one of five qualifying spots in the single-seater competition, and his third place gave him just that.
His Olympic berth comes after a time when the Games were postponed due to COVID-19. During the long distance, Alizadeh tried to get himself into a position where he could keep up at a high level while trying to qualify.
“I was obviously pretty depressed,” Alizadeh told Cambridge Independent. “It was what I got up for at 4:30 am every morning, so I felt sorry for myself for about a week. Then I realized, ‘Get out of there.’ This was the reality, and I changed my perspective to “How do I get out of there better? That is the situation, how can I benefit from it? ‘”
Before his Olympic preparation, Alizadeh participated as a student in the Penn men’s heavyweight boat Varsity Eight. Then, as his Quaker career came to an end, Alizadeh took a silver medal with the US men’s eighth at the U23 World Rowing Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
In addition, he won a number of boat races with Cambridge University in 2018 and 2019 and competed as a single Bermuda rower at numerous international locations.
Before the games, Alizadeh is happy to have the opportunity to compete at the highest level and show what he is capable of.
“What an opportunity and what fun to come to the Olympics,” Alizadeh told Cambridge Independent. “This is the stage, let’s see what you can do, not for others – this is for me. I don’t have a paycheck based on it or anything. I’ve worked on it for a long time, now is the opportunity to put all the pieces together. ”
In addition to Alizadeh in the rowing field, Regina will be Salmons, another Penn graduate who will compete for the USA in the Women’s Eight.
The Olympic Games have already started and will last until August 8th. The rowing competitions will take place July 23-30, and Alizadeh has some competition time behind her after finishing fourth in heat on Friday to qualify for the repechage 7:40 p.m. ET later that day .