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Foul weather blows away rowing qualifying opener

Members of the Philippine rowing team seeking berths to the Olympics were forced to abandon their boats at Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo, Japan, during the 2021 World Rowing Asian-Oceania Olympic Qualification Regatta after ugly weather threatened the safety of participants.

Melcah Jen Caballero and Joanie Delgaco, the PH lightweight sculls women’s tandem, Cris Nievarez (men’s single sculls) and the duo of Zuriel Sumintac and Roque Abala (men’s lightweight double sculls) will have another go at it Thursday morning, weather permitting, of course.

“We have been waiting for this chance for almost a year. We are ready for whatever challenge we will face,’’ said Caballero, PH rowing’s double-gold medalist in the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

The races are scheduled to resume Thursday morning with Nievarez the first to compete followed by Sumintac and Abala in the men’s qualifying heats.

Caballero and Delgaco will be in heat 1 at midday, eager that their boat crosses the line ahead of three other competitors for an opportunity to advance to the finals on Friday.

Apart from their skill, strength and technique, Caballero has acknowledged that their mental well-being is likewise of paramount concern in a high-performance meet such as the Olympic qualifier.

“We have to stay focused and not let the mounting pressure affect our performance,’’ said Caballero, who, along with the rowing squad went through regular online consultations with sports psychologists and physiologists from the Philippine Sports Commission’s Medical Scientific Athletes Services.

Caballero and Delgaco as well as Sumintac and Abala have to earn a medal in the finals on Friday for them to make it to the Olympics while Nievarez, the SEA Games gold medalist in his event, should end up at least in the top 5.

“The preparations that our rowers have gone through were not easy. They are all highly motivated,’’ said head coach Edgardo Maerina, the first Filipino rower in the Olympics in 1988 Seoul.

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