PH rowers continue Olympic qualifiers prep amid strict ECQ restrictions

Published April 11, 2021, 1:39 PM

by Kristel Satumbaga-Villar

Melcah Caballero
Melcah Jen Caballero at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games (Photo from Melcah Jen Caballero’s Facebook account)

National rowers bound for Olympic qualification to the Tokyo Games are making the most out of their time and resources to prepare amid restrictions brought by the pandemic.

Melcah Jen Caballero, one of the five Olympic hopefuls, said they have been doing mostly indoor training while Metro Manila and nearby provinces were placed under Enhanced Community Quarantine two weeks ago.

All five of them were able to train in water last week.

“Kami lang mga Olympic hopeful ang nakapag-training, single lang sa bangka po, kaya na-allow naman. Malapit na rin po kasi ang qualifying,” said Caballero, a double gold medalist at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.

The Asia and Oceania Continental Qualification Regatta is scheduled May 5 to 7 in Tokyo, Japan.

Preparing the oars that will be used in the upcoming Olympic qualifying. 🇵🇭 🚣‍♂️🚣‍♀️🚣‍♀️🚣🚣 Happy Sunday, everyone. Keep safe!

Posted by Philippine Rowing Association on Sunday, April 11, 2021

Aside from Caballero, the country will send Joanie Delgaco, Cris Nievares, Zuriel Sumintac and Roque Abala.

At the 2019 SEAG, Delgaco won the lightweight double sculls with Caballero while Nievares prevailed in the lightweight single sculls. Abala settled for bronze in the lightweight double sculls with Edgar Ilas.

Caballero’s other gold came in the lightweight single sculls.

Apart from their training situation, the pandemic also cost actual tournaments to be cancelled. Some events resorted to virtual, including the 2021 World Indoor Rowing Championships last month where Caballero placed fourth in the lightweight women’s 500 meters and Delgaco settled for 10th in the women’s U23 500m.

“2019 pa po last race namin sa water, pero nasimulan na din po namin yung preparation sa qualifying kaya gusto rin po naming tapusin nang maayos,” Caballero said.

The last time a Filipino rower qualified to the Olympics was at the 2000 Sydney courtesy of Benjamin Tolentino.