Rower Cris Nievarez became the eighth Filipino athlete to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games.
After finishing 5th in the semifinals of the Asia Oceania Continental Qualification Regatta in Japan on Friday, Nievarez placed ninth in the overall rankings, but still clinched a seat to the Olympics as some rowers ahead of him were already qualified in the games.
Officials of the Philippine Rowing Association got the confirmation yesterday from organizers of the rowing qualifier in Japan.
“Five (5) Olympic slots were given the Men’s Single Sculls (M1x). Nievarez was no. 9 after placing 3rd in the Final B race. As per World Rowing Qualification System, for the Continental Qualification regattas like the Asia/Oceania qualifying held in Tokyo last week, only one boat per NOC will qualify,” PRA president Patrick Gregorio told the Manila Standard.
Nievarez reached the Group B finals, with Indonesia’s Memo and Hong Kong’s Chan Chi Fung taking the gold and silver with times of 7:26:42 and 7:30.49.
But since Hong Kong and Indonesia have already made qualification in other categories, Nievarez claimed a seat in the men’s singles sculls.
“If more than one boat qualifies, the highest-ranking crew will qualify. So in the case of M1x, some of the crews from 1 to 8 already qualified in other events. So they are out of the M1x. Cris was able to get one of the 5 slots,” added Patrick Gregorio.
Nievarez is the first and only rower to claim a berth in the coming Tokyo Olympics, joining early qualifiers weightlifter and 2016 Rio Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz, pole vaulter EJ Obiena, gymnast Carlos Yulo, and boxers Eumir Marcial, Irish Magno, Carlo Paalam, and 2019 AIBA Women’s world champion Nesthy Petecio.
Nievarez is also the third Filipino rower in history to make it to the Olympics, following Benjamin Tolentino in 2000 (Sydney) and Ed Maerina in 1988 (Seoul)
“In my book, any athlete who through his actions inspires—whether one small child or a whole generation to become better—is already a champion. And this is what our athletes are to our people. They stand as beacons of hope. An inspiration to keep fighting and to never give up,” said Philippine Sports Commission chairman William Ramirez on his thoughts on Nievarez’s qualification.
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