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Cris Nievarez opened Philippines’ Olympic campaign with a quarterfinal-berth clinching performance on Friday morning, July 23, at the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo, Japan.
The lone Philippine rower in the delayed quadrennial meet clocked 7 minutes and 22.97 seconds for a third place finish in heat 5 of the men’s single sculls.
Croatia’s Damir Martin led the way with a time of 7:09.17 while Russia’s Alexander Vyazovkin finished with a time of 7:14.95.
Only the top three in the heat earned outright berths in the quarterfinals.
“Masarap sa pakiramdam, unang race, unang sabak, masaya, para ito sa Pilipinas (It was a good feeling – being on the first race, on the first day, it’s fun. This is for the Philippines),” said Nievarez.
The first-time Olympian was 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.
Nievarez, 21, secured a Tokyo 2020 Olympics berth by virtue of continental qualification regattas, where five national Olympic committees (NOCs) were awarded slots in the quadrennial meet.
The lean 5-foot-11 native of Atimonan, Quezon, Nievarez became the first Filipino rower in 20 years to qualify for the Olympics since sport legend Benjie Tolentino. – Rappler.com