SEA FOREST WATERWAY, Tokyo -- Cris Nievarez kicked off the Philippine campaign in the Summer Olympic Games with a strong third-place performance Friday, July 23, 2021, just enough to advance to the quarterfinals of the Men’s Single Sculls Rowing Competition.
The plan was to finish in the top 3 of Heat no. 5 and Nievarez did just that when he submitted an impressive time of 7:22.97 in the 2000-meter course as he clinched a berth to Sunday’s quarterfinals.
“Masarap sa pakiramdam, unang race, unang sabak, masaya, para ito sa Pilipinas,” said Nievarez, who had two world-class rowers in front of him – Croatia’s Damir Martin (7:09.17), the 2016 Rio Olympics silver medalist and Russian Alexander Vyazovkin (7:14.95), the world indoor champion.
The first-time Olympian was unfazed by the weight of the competition as he went side by side with Vyazovkin and Nicaragua’s Felix Potoy in the first 500 meters.
“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,” said Nievarez.
The top three in all of the six heats in the men’s singles scull advanced to the quarterfinals.
Those who missed the top three will battle it out in Saturday’s repechage where the top two performers move on to the quarterfinals.
“Mamaya, pag-aaralan namin ang oras ng lahat ng pumasok, kung sino ‘yung makakaharap ko sa quarterfinals at kung anong oras ang kailangan habulin,” said Nievarez.
A native of Sariaya in Quezon, Nievarez is the only Southeast Asian qualifier in men’s singles sculls and one of only two Asians left after the preliminaries — the other one being Ryuta Arakawa, who placed second in the final heat.
“One race at a time, on to Sunday,” rowing association treasurer Magnum Membrere said. (PR)