Filipino rower Cris Nievarez opens the country’s Olympics campaign with an impressive start after booking a quarterfinals berth in the Tokyo Olympics men's single sculls event on Friday, July 23.

/ 25 July 2021

Nievarez, the only Filipino representative who saw action on opening day, advanced to the quarterfinal round of the Tokyo Olympics after finishing third in Heat 5 over the 2,000-meter course at the Sea Forest Waterway, Tokyo on Friday.

The 21-year-old rower clocked 7 minutes and 22.97 seconds behind leader Damir Martin of Croatia with 7 minutes and 9.17 seconds and runner-up Alexander Vyazovkin of Russia with 7 minutes and 14.95 seconds.

Masarap sa pakiramdam, unang race, unang sabak, masaya, para ito sa Pilipinas,” said Nievarez, a last-minute qualifier who joined Benjie Tolentino and coach Ed Maerina as the only Filipino rowers to get as far as the Olympics.

Nievarez went close to Vyazovkin and Nicaragua’s Felix Potoy in the first 500 meters but eventually dashed out from the Nicaraguan rower to bag the third place and secure a quarterfinals berth. 

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,” he said. 

The 2019 SEA Games gold medalist is the lone Southeast Asian qualifier in the men’s singles sculls and one of only two Asians left after the preliminaries, together with local bet Ryuta Arakawa who placed second in the final heat.

Nievarez is slated to play in the quarterfinals on Monday, July 26, promising to give his best shot in the tournament.

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 averred.

“One race at a time, on to Sunday,” he added.