Cris Nievarez pulled off a historic feat for Philippine rowing after punching a ticket to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
Philippine Rowing Association president Patrick Gregorio got the confirmation from the World Rowing Federation that the 21-year-old rowing ace from Atimonan, Quezon has been booked in the men’s single sculls after participating in an Olympic qualifier recently.
Nievarez, a Southeast Asian Games gold medalist in the lightweight single sculls, performed well and made it into the semifinals of the World Rowing Asia Oceania Continental Qualification Regatta held at the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo last week.
“Our rowing team is focused and determined. They are soft spoken and humble, too. When you observe them train everyday at the La Mesa Dam, you will realize their passion and desire to excel,” said Gregorio.
Nievarez became the third Pinoy rower in the Olympics that took 21 years to achieve since Benjie Tolentino did the trick in 2000 Sydney. National coach Ed Maerina was the first Filipino rower in the Summer Games in 1988 Seoul.
“We are elated for Nievarez. This is a good sign for Philippine elite sports,” said Philippine Sports Commission Chairman William Ramirez, whose agency financially supported the training, preparation and participation of the national rowers in the Olympic qualifier.
Nievarez is the eighth Filipino athlete who will represent Team Philippines in the July 23-Aug. 8 global quadrennial Games, joining the ranks of pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena, gymnast Carlos Yulo and weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz.
Gregorio also expressed his gratitude for the backing of the Philippine Olympic Committee, MVP Sports Foundation, Smart and Maynilad for the success of Nievarez and the entire national rowing squad.
“Great work and we are very proud. This is an inspiration, too, for our athletes and the youth,” said POC president and Cavite representative Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino.
Boxers Nesthy Petecio, Carlo Paalam, Irish Magno and Eumir Marcial will likewise accompany Nievarez to the Tokyo Games.
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