Nievarez impresses in rowing qualifiers, Pinoy pairs fall short

Published May 6, 2021, 3:59 PM

by Kristel Satumbaga-Villar

Photo from Cris Nievarez’s Facebook account

Cris Nievarez inched closer to an Olympic berth while two national team pairs fell out of contention in rowing’s Asia Oceania Continental Qualification in Tokyo, Japan Thursday, May 6.

Nievarez, a 2019 Southeast Asian Games gold medalist, topped the repechage of the men’s single sculls with 8 minutes and 10.59 seconds to advance in Friday’s semifinal.

The semifinal will have two groups composed of six rowers with the top three rowers advancing to the finals. The top 5 of the six finalists will earn tickets to the Olympics also set in Tokyo late July.

Melcah Jean Caballero and Joanie Delgaco, as well as Roque Abala Jr and Zuriel Sumintac, meanwhile, fell short of their campaign in the lightweight women’s and men’s double sculls.

Caballero, a double gold medalist in the 2019 SEAG, and Delgaco finished third in the repechage in 8:14.30, behind Vietnamese and Korean rowers while Abala and Sumintac came in fourth in 7:39.35 behind Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Korea also in repechage.

Only the top 2 rowers in the repechage will advance to the next stage.

PH team coach Ed Maerina is optimistic of Nievarez’s chances, while still lauding the efforts of the two pairs in the tough competition marred by strong winds.

Day 1 of the race was initially scheduled Wednesday, but organizers decided to delay it for one day due to weather conditions.

“Mas maganda yung panahon ngayon kumpara kahapon (Wednesday) pero malakas talaga hangin. Halos lahat mabagal din na-register na oras dahil nga masyadong mahangin,” Maerina said.

The PH rowing team hopes to end a two-decade-old drought to the Olympics where the last rower to qualify was Benjie Tolentino at the 2000 Sydney Games.