Filipino rower Nievarez qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 10) — Filipino rower Cris Nievarez is representing the Philippines in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

The 2019 SEA Games gold medalist will be competing in the men’s single sculls event, the Philippine Rowing Association announced on Monday after receiving a confirmation from World Rowing. He qualified for one of the five Olympic slots.

Philippine Rowing Association President Patrick Gregorio lauded the achievement of Nievarez, the third Filipino rower to play in the Olympics after Ed Maerina (in Seoul, 1988) and Benjamin Tolentino Jr. (in Sydney, 2000).

"Let this be the start of the growth of Rowing in the Philippines. This is our time. It's time pick up that oar and learn to row," said Gregorio.

Maerina, now the national rowing team head coach, said Nievarez's feat will be beneficial for the Philippine rowing community.

"Rowing is not anymore behind in other sports, in terms of qualifying athletes for the Olympics. It will give us more support since this is an Olympic sport," Maerina told CNN Philippines.

The Tokyo Olympics rowing competition is slated July 23 to July 30 at Sea Forest Waterway.

Nievarez is the eighth Filipino athlete to qualify for the Tokyo Games, joining 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.