Tokyo Olympics: Filipino rower Nievarez hopes Games will go on

Dennis Gasgonia, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 19 2021 05:25 AM

Olympics-bound Filipino rower Cris Nievarez says the idea that he qualified for the Tokyo Games took a while to sink in. Cris Nievarez Facebook

Filipino rower Cris Nievarez said it is fortunate that the competition area for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics is the same place where he gained qualification for the Games.

Nievarez said this gives his team an idea how to prepare. 

"'Yun ang kagandahan doon kasi doon kami nag-qualify, doon din ang Olympics," the 21-year-old said in a recent episode of "The Chasedown."

"Parang nagamay ko na, nakapa ko na ang tubig doon kung ano ang kailangan dagdagan sa technique at endurance na kailangan ko.

"Maalon kasi doon, padating ang hangin kaya mahirap siya. Doon kami nagfo-focus sa training."

The Southeast Asian Games gold medalist qualified for the Summer Games after the World Rowing Asia & Oceania Olympic & Paralympic Qualification Regatta held recently in Tokyo. 

Nievarez finished ninth overall in the men's single sculls event, but grabbed one of the five berths at stake as the rowers who finished ahead of him had qualified for the Olympics already.

"Pagkalaman namin yung final na result, hindi talaga ako makapaniwala na Olympian na pala ako. Five years na paghihirap sa rowing nakapag-Olympics na ako," he said.

Nievarez is the first Filipino rower to qualify for the Games since Benjie Tolentino competed in the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

"Worth it ang paghihirap. Alam kong malaking responsibilidad po ang pagiging Olympian pero isang karangalan sa akin para mairepresenta ang watawat ng Pilipinas sa Olympics," he said.

When asked about the possibility of the Olympics getting postponed due to COVID-19, Nievarez remained optimistic.

His gains, however, will not go to waste as his training also covers his campaign for the coming SEA Games in Hanoi.

" 'Yung paghahanda naman kasi matuloy man o hindi, yung training ko po ngayon dirediretso na hanggang SEA Games. Pero malungkot po kung hindi matutuloy ang Olympics, nagprepare naman po at nagqualify kami," said Nievarez.

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