Felice Aisha Chow

TRAINING STEADILY: Felice Aisha Chow

ANOTHER POSTPONEMENT, one of many due to the Covid-19 pandemic, is delaying the qualification process for Team TTO rower Felice Aisha Chow.

The Americas Continental Qualification Regatta, the deadline time-trial for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games set for this region by the world governing body for rowing, FISA, was rescheduled to this month after multiple previous resets.

However, it has now been moved once again, this time to March 4-6 in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

It is an additional setback Chow will have to contend with on the uncertain road to the July 23-August 8 Japan Games, the hosting of which has been opposed in a recent survey by 80 per cent of Japanese citizens.

But even in her severely locked down USA state of California, the 2019 Pan American Games women’s single sculls silver medallist has lucked out because of the individual nature of her event.

“This last year has been crazy and really, really difficult for many people, so I feel really fortunate that my circumstances haven’t been too bad,” Chow, a 2018 Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games bronze medallist said. “I am still working. I am still training ...my training has not really been affected, so I have been able to row in the waters, my training partners, they are also in singles so they are still joining me in the water and so I have been really lucky to have a training team that is still with me and we have been going out every day.”

That training group includes one regular “super supportive” training partner but sometimes includes interchangeably college-aged male rowers and some male junior rowers who keep her on her toes as she strives to keep up with them. There are also a couple of masters men with whom Chow rows regularly.

“We all push each other because nobody wants to get beat. We are all competitive people,” the 43-year-old said.

Away from the water, Chow is an associate director, cell biology at FibroGen — a company that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialisation of novel therapeutics to treat serious unmet medical needs.

Challenging work schedule

She views the tough job of juggling her challenging work schedule (9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday) and her equally demanding training regime (one session each before and after work Monday to Friday followed by a three-session schedule on Saturday) as rewarding.

“So it is gruelling and difficult and my life is really packed right now. But I love my work and I love training, so it is not as big of a sacrifice as you think it might be,” Chow explained.

The TTO rower, who made her Olympic debut at the 2016 Rio Games, also cherishes navigating the workouts and training plans coordinated by her two coaches — former world champion and Olympian Sarah Throwbridge and Monica Hilcu, head coach at Redwood Scullers Redwood City, California. They push her to the limit.

“They are very different personalities but the two of them together are trying to get me over the finish line, so I have got a great, great group,” Chow said.

But even after all the hours invested in the Tokyo dream, Chow knows qualification is no guarantee. With a mere 29 sculling spots available to 156 countries under the FISA umbrella, the equation becomes even more difficult at the Americas stage, where she must finish in the top five to book her ticket to Japan.

“In terms of my chances, since I have competed in the 2016 Olympics, I have made a lot of gains, so I think the question is really whether or not I am progressing fast enough to stay ahead of most of the pack,” Chow reasoned. “So that is it...The moment of truth is almost here.”

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