Joanie Delgaco aims to make history when she competes in the final of the women's single sculls event of the 19th Asian Games on Monday at the Fuyang Water Sports Center in Hangzhou, China.
Delgaco, 25, will be coming as an underdog in the race that starts at 9:10 a.m. She battles a formidable cast of competitors bannered by Uzbekistan's Anna Prakaten, who won silver in the Tokyo Olympics while representing Russia.
Prakaten, who was born in Belarus, represented Russia, and switched to Uzbekistan in 2022, is heavily favored in the final after topping the semifinals in seven minutes and 47.88 seconds.
Delgaco clocked 8:18.30 to qualify to the medal race.
Also in the field are Shino Yonekawa of Japan, Liu Ruiqi of China, Leung Wing Wun of Hong Kong and Huang Yi Ting of Chinese Taipei.
Delgaco is targeting the Philippines' first medal in the rowing competition of the Asiad since Alvin Amposta and Nestor Cordova clinched a bronze in the men's lightweight doubles sculls in Busan 2002.
Philippine Rowing Association President Patrick Gregorio admitted that the battle will not be easy but he expects that Delgaco would go all out to make history.
“I’m very happy that Joanie is in the finals. She is the only Southeast Asian rower in the finals tomorrow,” Gregorio, who will be at the stands when Delgaco sees action, said.
“It’s going to be tough competition against No. 1 seed Uzbekistan, then China, Japan, and Chinese Taipei. Joanie will be racing in Lane 2 with the No. 1 seed. Hopefully, she outperforms herself.”
Gregorio admitted that the Uzbek will be a tough nut to crack but there is a chance that Delgaco, the pride of Bicol, will pull off an earth-shaking upset.
“Joanie’s personal best is 7:39, which she did last week in training at the La Mesa Dam,” Gregorio said.
“If she duplicates it, she has a good chance of pulling an upset.”
Also seeing action on the final day of hostilities will be Tokyo Olympics veteran Cris Nievarez.
Nievarez will be competing in the Final B of the men’s single sculls event at 9:20 a.m. to determine his final standing in this tournament.