MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine rowing team remains confident of doing well in the 31st Hanoi Southeast Asian Games despite having to race on borrowed boats.
Philippine Rowing Association president Patrick Gregorio said the Filipino paddlers are all in high spirits and will try to equal if not surpass the three golds they won in the biennial meet three years ago which the country hosted.
"Three golds in Subic. It will be tougher in Vietnam, but hopefully Cris Nievarez can retain his gold medal, and si Joanie Delgaco will also compete. She also won gold in Subic," said the rowing federation head in Tuesday's virtual session of the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum.
"We've been training very hard. No letup. That's what we've been doing ever since."
The Filipino rowers have remained optimistic despite being unable to bring their own boats to the Vietnamese province of Bac Ninh – almost a two-hour drive from Hanoi – due to what Gregorio referred to as a logistical issue.
"Since last month, the PSC (Philippine Sports Commission) already informed us the logistics provider cannot bring it kasi sa container van siya sinasakay, and buti sana kung sa Ho Chi Minh lang ito, but it's two hours outside of Hanoi. So it's very difficult ang logistics process," said Gregorio.
"No one's fault, it is how it is. In terms of logistics, hindi naman maliit na equipment na dadalhin mo lang 'yan. These are very big boats," he added. "We did everything to send our boats, but talagang, logistically, the timing is (not right). Not even two months (is enough) to bring in there."
The Vietnam rowing federation has assured the Philippines -- as well as other countries that won't bring their own equipment -- that they will be lent competition boats to be used during the event.
Rowing is scheduled for May 9 to 14 at the Thuy Nguyen Boat Racing Center.
The coaching staff, led by Ed Maerina and foreign counterpart Shukhrat Ganiev of Uzbekistan, remains hopeful that the 16-man squad can perform well. The team will be led by Nievarez, who competed in the Tokyo Olympics last year
The team concluded its training camp at the La Mesa dam on Monday and will leave for Hanoi on May 6.
"We will do our best na maibigay 'yung kanilang best performance to haul medals. We don't know what's the color of the medals, basta meron tayong tatlong kulay diyan na makukuha natin," said Maerina.
All eyes will be on Nievarez, who won gold in the lightweight single sculls three years ago and impressed in his maiden Olympic stint in Tokyo. He will be joined by CJ Jasmin, Zuriel Sumintac, Van Maxilom, Athens Tolentino, Edgar Ilas, Roque Abala, Joachim De Jesus, and EJ Obana in the men's team.
Delgaco, meanwhile, will be at the forefront of the women's side along with Juliann Sha, Alyssa Go, Feiza Lenton, Amelyn Pagulayan, Mireille Qua, and Kristine Paraon.
Along with Melcah Jen Caballero, Delgaco won the gold in the women's lightweight double sculls.
Caballero, who also bagged the gold in the women's lightweight single sculls, has since retired from the sport.
A total of 16 events in rowing will be competed in the Hanoi Games.