Young rookie Olympian Cris Nievarez has proven that he is not just a filler in his competition, but a serious competitor who desires to win a medal for his country.
The 21-year-old Nervaez graced the Philippines’ participation in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by qualifying to the quarterfinals in men’s single sculls rowing, placing third in Heat 5 on opening day Friday at the Sea Forest Water Bay in Tokyo.
Nervaez clocked a personal best of seven minutes and 22.97 seconds in the two-kilometer race, enough to out-paddle fourth placer Felix Potoy of Nicaragua by ten seconds and to break his previous personal best by six seconds.
Nervaez fell behind second placer Aleksandr Vyazovkin of Russia by eight seconds and heat winner Damir Martin of Croatia by 13 seconds.
The 33-year-old Martin is a two-time Olympic silver medalist and seven-time world champion while the 24-year-old Vyazovkin is a rookie like Narvaez.
Kjetil Borch of Norway (Heat 1) had the best time in the heats with six minutes and 54.46 seconds.
The gold-medal winning mark in the 2016 Olympics was by Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand at six minutes and 41.34 seconds. Drysdale has retired after Rio.
Nievarez is the first Filipino rower to qualify in the Olympics since 2000. Benjamin Tolentino bannered the Philippines in Sydney but placed fifth in the quarterfinals, thus failing to qualify in the semifinals. There were no heat stages during that Olympiad.
Nievarez will next see action on Monday, 8 AM (Philippine time). He has to place at least third in his heat to qualify to the semifinals.