Saiyidah Aisyah made history on Monday (25 April) when she became the first ever rower from Singapore to qualify for the Olympics.
The 28-year-old secured her ticket to Rio later this year by winning the B final of the women’s 2,000m single scull event at the FISA Asia and Oceania Olympic Qualification Regatta in Chungju, South Korea.
Only the top seven finishers at the event - the region’s sole qualifying meet - would qualify for this year’s Olympics in Brazil. They included all six competitors in the A final - Indonesia, Iran, South Korea, Vietnam, Taipei, Kazakhstan - and one more from the B final, which meant it was Saiyidah’s last chance to make it to Rio.
Saiyidah, who won the nation’s first-ever individual rowing SEA Games gold in 2013, did it by finishing first in 7min 53.13s at Tangeum Lake earlier this morning, ahead of five others. Thailand’s Phuttharaska Neegree, a 2012 Olympian and SEA Games gold medallist in the 1,000m sculls last year, came in a very close second in 7:54.22. Qatar’s Tala Aladin Abujbara was third in 7:55.66.
It is the latest history-making feat and the realisation of a dream for Saiyidah, the SEA Games bronze medallist in both the 500m and 1,000m sculls last year.
In her quest to make the Olympics, Saiyidah left her job as a Student Development Officer at Ngee Ann Polytechnic in August last year to move to Sydney, Australia to train full time. Having used up most of her life savings, she set up a crowd-funding campaign earlier this year in an effort to complete her final push and exceeded her target by 40 per cent.
Saiyidah, who started rowing in 2004, will now compete in the Olympics rowing events scheduled to take place from August 6 to 13 at Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas in Copacabana.
Confirmation of Singaporean rower Saiyidah Aisyah's successful qualification to the women's single sculls event for the 2016 Olympics. The top seven finishers make it to Rio. (Photo: Screenshot from FISA website)