Shelley Pearson says she has “unfinished business” in rowing after qualifying for the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, next summer.
Pearson contemplated retiring from the sport after representing Bermuda at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016, where she came fourth in the C final in the women’s single sculls.
With the next Olympics in Toyko just 18 months away, Pearson has had a change of heart and returned to training in September with a view to competing at the Pan American Games Qualification Regatta, held at the Lagoa Roderigo de Freitas in Rio last week.
Already familiar with the course, having raced in the lagoon at the Rio Olympics, the 27-year-old finished fourth out of 17 entries at the five-day regatta to qualify for Lima.
“There isn’t any particular thing that convinced me to carry on,” Pearson said. “Essentially, I didn’t feel as if I was ready to be completely retired and finished with the sport.
“I started training in September with the plan of competing next summer [in Lima].
“I didn’t have the qualifier on my radar, but I didn’t want to lose the opportunity to compete at Pan Ams by not attending the qualifier, so I decided it was worth a try.”
Pearson said she is excited about the challenge of testing herself at another major multi-sport event, where she will renew acquaintances with several of the rowers who competed in Rio last week.
“I love the sport and the challenge along with representing my country, so I’m excited to see where this will take me,” she said.
“The athletes will primarily remain the same as those I competed against last week, so my goal would be to improve my performance.”
Pearson, who lives in New York, working as a management consultant for Ernst & Young, is the first Bermudian woman to compete in rowing at both the Olympics and Women’s Boat Race. She helped Oxford University to 6½-lengths victory over Cambridge on the Thames Tideway in 2015.
“I’m training out of a boathouse here in NYC and spending time with a group in Saratoga Springs [in New York State] as well,” she added.
“There are some World Cup races in Europe in the spring and early summer that I plan to use as preparation. Tokyo is certainly in the back of my mind.”
Several Bermuda athletes have already qualified for the Pan American Games, which is held among competitors from nations of the Americas.
For the first time, a Bermuda squash team will compete at the event, with Micah Franklin, Noah Browne and Nick Kyme qualifying at the Pan American Squash Championships in Cayman Islands in August.
Caitlin Conyers has also secured the island a berth after finishing second in the road race at the Elite Caribbean Cycling Championship in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in October.