Nievarez resumes quest against heavyweights

Nelson Beltran - The Philippine Star
Nievarez resumes quest against heavyweights
Cris Nievarez

TOKYO – Rower Cris Nievarez is up against bigger monsters in a bigger race today.

After a day’s rest, Nievarez returns to action in the Sea Forest Waterway, up for a tougher test in seeking further progress in men’s single sculls in the Tokyo Olympics.

Germany’s Oliver Zeidler, the 2019 World Championships gold medalist, and Lithuania’s Mindaugas Griskonis, a Euro Championship three-time winner, lead a powerhouse cast Nievarez tangles with in pursuit of a spot in the A-B semifinals.

Also vying in this race are Brazilian Luca Verthein, Kiwi Jordan Perry and Iraqi Mohammad Al Khafaji.

They are giants literally and figuratively.

For one, Zeidler is a towering 6-8 rower. He was power personified in winning the gold medals in the 2019 Lucerne European Championship then in the World Championship in the same year in Ottensheim. Griskonis is a 6-2 specimen with his own collection of victories in Europe.

But Nievarez minds his target.

“Like in the heats, Cris is targeting a Top Three finish to progress to the next round. He’s calm and focused,” said rowing official Magnum Membrere.

On Friday, the Philippine Olympic rowing debutant raced according to his game plan, sticking in the coattails of the top two and safely placing third in Heat 5 to advance to the quarterfinals.

Zeidler topped Heat 6, Griskonis emerged a strong second in Heat 4, Perry was also No. 2 in Heat 2 while Verthein and Al Khafaji were No. 3 and No. 6 in Heat 1.

Al Khafaji reached the quarters from a strong showing in the repechage yesterday.

The realistic goal for Nievarez today is to beat Verthein, Perry and Al Khafaji to make the A-B semis.

The Filipino, however, has a job cut out for him, with Zeidler, Griskonis, Perry and Verthein all submitting better clockings Friday.

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