TOKYO — Cris Nievarez wound up fifth in his quarterfinal group to steer out of contention in men’s single sculls of rowing at the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday at the Sea Forest Waterway here.
But Nuevarez, only 21 and in his first Olympics, benefited so much from these unique Olympics.
“This will be a major learning experience for Cris,” said Magnum Membrere, a former college basketball star who turned to rowing and is now treasurer of the Philippines Rowing Association (PRA).
“He’s young and he’s determined,” added Membrere of Nievarez, the only Southeast Asian in the men’s single sculls event.
“Malaking bagay ang experience na nakuha ko dito sa Tokyo Olympics, sabi nga ni Sir Magnum, learning experience,” Nievarez said.
“Malaking dahilan ito para pagbubutihin ko pa at aasamin na makarating ako sa Paris [2024 Olympics].”
“Nakita ko na rin and mga strength ng mga kalaban at alam ko na kung anong aspects ang kailangan i-improve,” he added.
“His performance is beyond expectations. Commendable,”PRA president Patrick “Pato” Gregorio said. “Focused training here and abroad, Cris will really improve.”
Nievarez was the first Filipino on the block in these unique Olympics and didn’t disappoint on Friday. He earned a quarterfinal round seat that set off the Philippine campaign to a comfortable start.
But pitted against bigger and stronger rowers packed with more experience, Nievarez could only finish fifth in his quarterfinal group.
He clocked seven minutes and 50.74 seconds, about half a minute slower than his time over the 2,000-meter race on Friday.
“Headwind kasi today, hindi gaya noong Friday,” said Nievarez who will still row in Monday’s classification semifinals. “Advantage sa mga rowers na mas malalaki at mas mabigat.”
Germany’s Oliver Zeidler (7:12.75) and Brazil’s Luca Verthein Ferreira (7:14.26) topped Nievarez’s group in the quarterfinals.
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