PH rowers join Asian virtual tilt

Published January 17, 2021, 2:23 PM

by Kristel Satumbaga-Villar

Four national rowers will be competing in the Asian Continental Qualifier event on Jan. 24 for the 2021 World Rowing Virtual Indoor Championships.

The continental qualifier will be held virtually where participants will use rowing machines connected to a laptop as health restrictions brought by the pandemic continue to ground some actual competitions.

The Hong Kong Rowing Association is hosting the tournament on behalf of the Asian Rowing Federation.

Double gold medalist at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games Melcah Jen Caballero banners the small crew composed of fellow SEAG gold winner Cris Nievarez, Roque Abala Jr. and Zuriel Sumintac.

Caballero will compete in the women’s lightweight 500 meters, while Nievarez will participate in the men’s open 2000m. Abala Jr. and Sumintac are lined up in the men’s lightweight 2000m and men’s lightweight 500m, respectively.

Some national rowers have resumed training last Jan. 6 both indoors and outdoors at the La Mesa Dam for future tournaments. They have arrived by batches and quarantined for 14 days in compliance with health protocols.

Caballero said the virtual tournament would also serve as their training ground for the Asia and Oceania Continental Qualification for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics set April in a still undetermined venue.

Caballero refused to dwell on their chances in landing Olympic berths and instead, focused on making up for lost training time due to the pandemic.

Apart from training restrictions, Caballero also served as a frontliner as a Navy Seaman 2nd Class where she was dispatched at checkpoints in Marikina.

“Pero kung magiging tuluy-tuloy naman po yung training ngayong taon, sa tingin ko naman po maganda po ang magiging karera namin,” said Caballero, who won gold in lightweight singles and double sculls with Joanie Delgaco in the 2019 SEAG.

The last time a PH rower qualified to the Olympics was in the 2000 Athens courtesy of Benjamin Tolentino.