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Philippines rowers miss Tokyo
Cris Nievarez
STAR/Russell Palma, file

Philippines rowers miss Tokyo

Joey Villar (The Philippine Star) - May 8, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Filipino rowers will have to wait a few more years before getting another chance to end a two-decade absence in the Olympics.

Needing to finish third in the men’s single sculls semifinals, Filipino Cris Nievarez failed to deliver as he wound up fifth in the 2021 Asia Oceania Continental Qualification Regatta in Tokyo, Japan.

It ended Nievarez’ hopes of making the Tokyo Olympics in July.

The 2019 Southeast Asian Games gold medalist clocked seven minutes and 28.84 seconds, which wasn’t enough to propel him to the six-man finals where the top 5 would automatically clinch Tokyo berths.

The 20-year-old breadwinner of a poor family in Atimonan, Quezon, whose trip in Tokyo was sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and the Manny V. Pangilinan Sports Foundation (MVPSF), later wound up third in the classification race to finish ninth overall.

But he came really close to realizing his Olympic dream after topping the repechage the day before that booked him a spot in the two-group, 12-man semis.

Nievarez also went into the semis carrying on his broad shoulders all the country’s hopes and dreams of sending a Filipino rower to the quadrennial event for the first time since Benjie Tolentino made it to the 2000 Sydney Games.

He was the last Filipino standing as the country’s other bets – Roque Abala, Jr. and Zuriel Sumintac and SEA Games double gold medal winner Melcah Jen Caballero and Joanie Delgaco – were all eliminated in the doubles sculls.

It just wasn’t meant to be.

CRIS NIEVAREZ
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