Chris Nievarez of the Philippines captures gold in the lightweight singles sculls men’s rowing in Subic.
Russell Palma
Philippine Rowers create ripples
John Bryan Ulanday (The Philippine Star) - December 8, 2019 - 12:00am

SUBIC, Philippines – Filipino rowers made a splash yesterday, willowing their way under the scorching Subic heat to an impressive two-gold medal haul at the opening of the 30th SEA Games rowing competitions at the ACEA Beach Resort here.

Courtesy of Quezon-native Cris Nievarez, Team Philippines ruled the men’s lightweight single sculls before the Bicolana pair of Melcah Caballero and Joanie Delgaco followed it up with a win in the women’s lightweight double sculls.

Up against strong rowers from Thailand and Indonesia, the SEA Games newbie Nievarez still prevailed with an epic late-race escape act to cover the 2000-meter men’s event just a hair of a second clear from his rivals.

The 19-year-old Filipino rower clocked seven minutes and 34.27 seconds for the gold medal as Siripong Chaiwichitchonkul (7:35.01) of Thailand and Kakan Kusmana (7:39.54) of Indonesia finished second and third.

It did not take long for the Caballero-Delgaco pair to follow Nievarez’ trail when they dominated the women’s doubles event, more than three seconds faster than their counterparts from Vietnam and Myanmar.

The Filipina duo rowed the two-kilometer route in 7:24.21 with Hao Dinh Thi and Ta Thanh Huyen of Vietnam finishing at 7:27.65 for a silver medal placing. Myanmar’s Shwe Zin Latt and Nilar Win timed 7:30.23 to complete the podium.

“It’s an overwhelming feeling especially with this being my first SEA Games stint. It’s a huge achievement and morale-booster heading into many more tournaments in the future,” said the teen prodigy who was a former basketball varsity before being recruited by the Philippine rowing team in 2015.

For the Filipina rowers, meanwhile, the race has just begun as they set their sights in qualifying to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

Later in the day, Team Philippines failed to complete a three-gold medal sweep in the first day of action as Zuriel Sumintac and Nestor Cordova wound up fifth in the men’s pair event.

The Nationals will be paddling to make it a five-gold harvest today in women’s lightweight single and double sculls as well as the women’s pair.

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