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Freeman Cebu Sports

Filipino rower eases through quarterfinals

Emmanuel B. Villaruel - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  Team Philippines got off to the best possible start they could in the Tokyo Olympics after Cris Nievarez punched a quarterfinals ticket in the men’s single sculls of rowing event yesterday at the Sea Forest Waterway in Odaiba, Japan.

The 21-year-old Nievarez, a first-time Olympian, was the first to plunge into action for the 19-man Filipino contingent in the quadrennial games and he swiftly made his presence felt by advancing to the next round on acount of his third-place finish in Heat 5 with a time of 7:22.97.

“Magandang simula ito sa Tokyo Olympics para sa Team Philippines. Nievarez qualifying in the quarterfinals on the first day is a good testament that our athletes have prepared well, despite the pandemic.  It definitely boosts the morale of all our competing athletes in the next competition days! Isa lang hiling ko sa inyo, let’s keep our athletes and coaches in our prayers please, mga kababayan. We got this,” said Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino.

Nievarez finished behind Damir Martin of Croatia, the 2016 Rio Olympics silver medalist, and Alexander Vyazovkin lf Russia, the world indoor champion, who took the first and second spots with 7:09.17 and 7:14.95 clockings, respectively.

“Masarap sa pakiramdam, unang race, unang sabak, masaya, para ito sa Pilipinas,” said Nievarez,

the only Southeast Asian qualifier in men’s singles sculls and one of only two Asians left after the preliminaries. The other one is Japan’s Ryuta Arakawa, who wound up second in the final heat.

The pride of Sariaya, Quezon actually battled side by side with Vyazovkin and Nicaragua’s Felix Potoy in the first 500 meters before losing his ground and eventually settled for third.

“Nauna na talaga ‘yung Croatian, pero kami ng Russian and ‘yung Nicaraguan, halos sabay lang sa first 500 meters. Noong 750 meters, nauna na ako sa Nicaraguan,” shared Nievarez.

Nevertheless, Nievarez rolled on to the quartrefinal race scheduled at 8:40 a.m. on Monday, July 26.

“Mamaya, pag-aaralan namin ang oras ng lahat ng pumasok, kung sino ‘yung makakaharap ko sa quarterfinals at kung anong oras ang kailangan habulin,” Nievarez said.

As per Luisa Morales of Philstar.com, Nievarez gave credit to his Ukranian coach Shukrat Ganiev for his spectacular Olympic debut.

“Siguro itong result gawa din ng training program ni Coach Ganiev. Sobrang laking naitulong niya,”  Nievarez told Gretchen Ho of One Sports shortly after his race. “Yung preparation rin papunta dito sobrang maganda.”

“Masarap sa pakiramdam kasi derecho na po ako ng quarterfinal,” he added.”Di na po magrerace bukas so maganda ulit yung preparation papunta naman ng quarterfinal,” he added.

Meanwhile, four more Pinoy bets in boxer Nesthy Petecio, taekwondo jin Kurt Ryan Barbosa, gymnast Caloy Yulo and swimmer Remedy Rule will start their respective campaigns today.

Petecio will take on Sakobi Matshu Marcelat of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the women’s featherweight Round of 32 at 10 a.m. at the Kokugikan Arena while Barbosa will face Jang Jun of Korea in men’s -58 kg Round of 16  at 10:52 a.m. at the Makuhari Messe Hall A.

Yulo, one of the country’s brightest hopes to win medal in the two-week sports conclave, will strut his wares in the qualifying round of men’s artistic gymnastics at 9 a.m. at the Ariake Gymnastics Center while Rule will compete in Heat 2 of women’s 100m butterfly event at the Tokyo Aquartics Centre.

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