Rower Cris Nievarez is not wasting precious time preparing for his debut appearance at the 2021 Tokyo Games.
The 21-year-old up-and-comer is using his time training indoors while still in quarantine after arriving at the Asia Oceania Continental Qualification in Tokyo, Japan over the weekend.
His Olympic ticket came as a surprise and with only 10 weeks left before the Games, but Nievarez said he is not putting this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity into waste by putting more quality to his training.
“Focus ko po i-improve yung endurance ko saka muscle strength, mas patibayin pa yung technique,” said Nievarez during the Philippine Sportswriters Association Online Forum Tuesday, May 11.
He knew what was in store for him as far as venue is concerned, as the venue for the Games is the same venue that they had competed during the Asian qualifiers. It is a matter of improving his time to be at par with his Olympic-bound counterparts, particularly from Europe.
“Goal ko po talaga maidikit yung time ko sa mga malalakas na countries,” said Nievarez, adding that his best time of 7 minutes and 10 seconds is still far from veteran rowers clocking under 7 minutes.
Uzbek coach Shukrat Ganiev, who has lent his expertise during their 2019 Southeast Asian Games preparations, will be arriving in a few weeks to help local coaches in preparing Nievarez for the Games.
Philippine Rowing Association President Patrick Gregorio said he had talked to coaches about possible tournaments that Nievarez could join prior to the Olympics, but they were apprehensive because of strict health and quarantine protocols.
“Mahirap kasi na halimbawa pagkagaling nya ng tournament abroad, pagbalik niya, magku-quarantine siya ng 10 to 14 days… Mapuputol yung training nya. So we’re still studying it,” Gregorio said.
Gregorio also hopes that with the qualification of Nievarez to the Olympics, more aspirants will try the sport.
In fact, the association is looking at Maragondon River in Ternate, Cavite as a “perfect regional training hub” for their grassroots program.
“Slowly but surely, we will make this happen. Kasi hindi pwedeng wala tayong grassroots development,” Gregorio said.
In the meantime, Gregorio said their main focus for the next two months is to give Nievarez the best training he could get, then shift to their SEAG campaign where they hope to improve their three-gold-medal haul in the previous edition.