Two-time Boat Race winner and UPenn grad Dara Alizadeh is competing in his first Olympics, representing Bermuda in the M1x
1. What inspired you to go to your first rowing practice; was there anything memorable about it?
I was originally a wrestler in high school and loved it. However, my high school rowing coach suggested I give rowing a go, which at first I was a bit skeptical and not really interested, but my parents said I had to at least try. I remember getting into a coxed 4 and it being very tippy, but it was a nice day down at the river, which probably helped me decide it was good fun.
2. Was there a practice, race or other event when you fell in love with the sport, or when you knew you might not be too bad at rowing? When you thought you could make the national team?
There was a practice my junior year in high school that I won my first direct seat race against an older student, and I realized that I was alright at this. For a first national team, I think my first day at stroke in the first draft of the 8+ down in U23 selection in Charlottesville, I was pretty shocked they were giving a Penn guy the keys, but it was by far the fastest boat I had ever been in, and it gave me a huge boost. Beyond a single practice, I think just making it to the next step each time really built my confidence, from high school, college, U23s, Boat Race, to racing at the senior level.
3. Best race/practice, worst race/practice?
Best race was Burk Cup 2014, Penn vs Northeastern. A total of 0 people were picking us to win, I don't even think Penn was thinking a win was possible, but we ended up racing like we had nothing to lose. By the 1000, we had 7 seats, and suddenly we were about to win this race. Best practice time was 2018 Cambridge Blue Boat, we had a pre-Boat Race camp up in Nottingham, and the boat just came together so well and clicked that week.
Worst practice was probably a Penn tradition called the Ted Nash row, where we rowed 73 miles in a day. That was pretty rough.
Worst racing was Linz 2019, racing the MX1 for Bermuda, having sculled for... 3 months. Humbling does not even begin to describe that, but it was a learning experience
4. Best/Anything you've done in the sport no one knows about?
I am a 2 time Sveti Duje Regatta champion in Split, Croatia - no one talks about this anymore. I also won best hair at BUCS regatta 2021. It's the little things that count.
5. Any/Most important advice for young rowers?
Rowing is the only sport you can go from having never seen a rowing boat to going to the very top in a college rowing career.
Focus on the process, the score will take care of itself.
Don't talk about the "sacrifices" you make for rowing. You're making choices, not sacrifices. Rowing is hard, embrace it.
Hometown: St. Georges, Bermuda
Birthplace: Brookline, MA, USA
Current Residence: Cambridge, UK
Club Affiliation: Bermuda Rowing Association, Cambridge University Boat Club, UTS Rowing, Cambridge Boat Club
Began Rowing: 2008
Date of Birth: August 27th, 1993
High School: The Belmont Hill School
Undergraduate Education: University of Pennsylvania
Graduate Education: Cambridge University
Training Location: Ely, Cambridge
Current Coach: Rob Baker
National Teams: USA U23 8+ 2015 (Plovdiv, silver), Bermuda 1x 2019 - today
International Results: USA U23 8+ 2015 (Plovdiv), Bermuda 1x ( 2019 Linz World Champs, 2021 Rio Olympic qualifier, 2021 WC2 Lucerne)
National Results: Boat Race wins with Cambridge in 2018 and 2019