Delgaco first Pinay rower to book Olympic trip

Joey Villar - The Philippine Star
Delgaco first Pinay rower to book Olympic trip
Joanie Delgaco

MANILA, Philippines — When Joanie Delgaco was starting as a national team member, she was awed by the stars of the sport.

With relentless hard work and iron will, Delgaco will now compete with the best of them in the biggest stage that every athlete dreams of – the Olympics.

“Dati dinadaanan lang ako ng mga malalakas, ngayon kasama ko na sila,” said the ecstatic 26-year-old Delgaco, who yesterday rowed her way to this July’s Paris Games with a fourth-place showing in the Asia Oceania qualification tournament in Chungju, South Korea.

Needing to make the top 5 to punch a ticket to the quadrennial games, Delgaco rose to the occasion as she clocked seven minutes and 49.39 seconds in the women’s singles sculls.

With that, she became the first lady rower from the country to vie in the Olympics. Philippine male rowers who have competed in the quadrennial games are Ed Maeirina in 1998 in Seoul, South Korea, Benjie Tolentino in 2000 in Sydney, Australia and Cris Nievarez three years ago in Tokyo, Japan.

And Delgaco also became the 11th member of Team Phl journeying to the Paris Games, joining pole-vaulter EJ Obiena, gymnasts Carlos Yulo, Aleah Finnegan and Levi Jung-Ruivivar, boxers Eumir Marcial, Nesthy Petecio and Aira Villegas and weightlifters Vanessa Sarno, John Ceniza and Elreen Ando.

“Start pa lang nag-iisip ako kung kaya ko, dati kasi ang lalakas nila, ngayon ko lang sila natalo,” said Delgaco in a recent interview with Radyo Pilipinas.

“This is our story: After 20 years of absence in the Olympics after Benjie Tolentino in 2000, the Philippine Rowing Association has contributed back-to-back Olympians – Cris Nievarez and Joanie Delgac,” PRA president Patrick “Pato” Gregorio told The STAR.

“Hard work, determination and love for the sport. We can excel in rowing. It is a beautiful sport,” added Gregorio, thanking PSC, POC, MVPSF, Smart, Maynilad and MWSS for their support.

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