PH rowers bow out of Olympic qualifiers

Published May 7, 2021, 12:57 PM

by Kristel Satumbaga-Villar

Photo from Coach Ed Maerina

The Philippine rowing team failed to earn an Olympic berth in the Asia Oceania Continental Qualification after the last man standing Cris Nievarez fell short in his campaign in the men’s single sculls semifinal in Tokyo, Japan Friday morning, May 7.

Nievarez, who turned 20 last month, finished fifth in his six-man group after clocking 7 minutes and 28.84 seconds behind Japanese, Indian, Vietnamese and Hong Kong rowers.

He earned a semis seat after topping Thursday’s repechage.

The 12 semifinalists were divided into two groups with the top three rowers of each bracket advancing to the finals Friday afternoon.

From the six finalists, five will earn Olympic tickets also set in Tokyo late July.

The lightweight doubles sculls pairs of Roque Abala Jr and Zuriel Sumintac, as well as Melcah Jen Caballero and Joannie Delgaco, were already out of contention Thursday after failing to make it past the repechage.

Later in the day, the five rowers raced for their final placing with Caballero and Delgaco topping the Final B for seventh overall, and Nievarez finishing third in Final B for ninth overall.

Abala and Sumintac also finished third in Final B for ninth overall.

Head coach Ed Maerina is still proud of the team’s efforts despite training challenges brought by the pandemic.

They trained on and off at the Lamesa Dam in Quezon City due to quarantine restrictions. Caballero and Abala also served as frontliners before focusing on full training for the qualifiers.

“Kailangan mas matindi pa ang paghahanda namin. Yung mga kalaban ni Cris (Nievarez), malalakas talaga, pero bata pa naman siya. Malayo pa mararating niya,” Maerina said.

The team will return to Manila Saturday, May 8, where their next focus will be their campaign at the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam late November.