Cris Nievarez’s qualification to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was a surprising one.
Some might call it luck, as the 20-year-old native of Atimonan, Quezon finished at ninth overall during the 2021 Asia Oceania Olympic and Paralympic Rowing Qualification Regatta last week but made it through the rankings and the universality rule.
But some believe that it was destiny for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games gold medalist in the men’s lightweight single sculls event.
Now that he has qualified for the global meet, the MVP Sports Foundation will go all out to give him the best training possible in hopes that Nievarez shocks the world.
“The next step now is to help our Olympian and his coaches prepare the best way they can, and under the guidance and leadership of the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee, the MVP SF will be there every step of the way,” said foundation president Al Panlilio, who is also the first vice president of the POC.
MVP SF is also supporting the campaigns of weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz; boxing flyweight Carlo Paalam, middleweight Eumir Marcial, flyweight Irish Magno, featherweight Nesthy Petecio, gymnast Caloy Yulo; and pole vaulter EJ Obiena.
Helping make the Olympic journey of Nievarez possible is the Philippine Rowing Association which has Benjie Ramos as chairman, Pato Gregorio as president, Quintin Pastrana as vice president, Jercyl Lerin as secretary-general, and Magnum Membrere as treasurer.
PRA will also focus all of its efforts on Nievarez’s training as national team coach Shukrat Ganiev is set to arrive in the coming days. Ganiev will also begin training the 31st Southeast Asian Games team.
Nievarez is the first Filipino rower to qualify for the Olympics since Benjie Tolentino in 2000 during the Sydney Games.
Though it might have taken two decades to reach the pinnacle of sports, Gregorio is confident that this is just the start of the golden age of rowing as Nievarez and fellow Team Pilipinas members Melcah Jen Caballero, Joanie Delgaco, Edgar Ilas, and Roque Abala Jr. are still young while the grassroots program of the PRA has been developing the next generation.
“This is a historic day for Philippine rowing. Let this be the start of growth of the growth of rowing in the Philippines,” said Gregorio.
“This is our time, it’s time to pick up that oar and learn to row.”