Rowers target minimum of 3 golds in Vietnam SEA Games–Gregorio

Nievarez

THE Philippine rowing team remains confident of doing well in the Hanoi 31st Southeast Asian Games despite having to race on borrowed boats.

Philippine Rowing Association president Patrick Gregorio said the Filipino rowers are in high spirits and will try to equal, if not surpass, the three gold medals they won in the 2019 edition that the country hosted.

“Three golds in Subic. It will be tougher in Vietnam, but hopefully Cris Nievarez can retain his gold medal, and Joanie Delgaco will also compete,” Gregorio told Tuesday’s online Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum. “She also won gold in Subic.”

“We’ve been training very hard. No letup. That’s what we’ve been doing ever since,” he added.

The Filipinos maintained an optimistic mindset despite having to rent boats for their competition that will be staged in the Vietnamese province of Bac Ninh—an almost two-hour drive from Hanoi—because of what Gregorio referred to as logistical issue.

“Since last month, the PSC [Philippine Sports Commission] already informed us that the logistics provider couldn’t accommodate our equipment which will be loaded in a container van,” he said. “If it’s Ho Chi Minh, it’s viable, but its two hours outside of Hanoi. So it’s very difficult for logistics process.”

“But it’s no one’s fault, it is how it is. You’re bringing equipment that are large, these are big boats,” he said. “We did everything to send our boats, but, logistically, the timing is (not right). Not even two months (is enough) to bring them there.”

The Vietnam rowing federation, Gregorio said, assured the Philippines and the other countries which won’t be bringing their own equipment that it will lend them competition boats to be used during the event from May 9 to 14 at the Thuy Nguyen Boat Racing Center.

The coaching staff led by Ed Maerina and foreign counterpart Shukhrat Ganiev of Uzbekistan have high hopes on the chances of the 16-member squad led by Nievarez, who represented the country in the Tokyo Olympics, and Delgaco.

The team concluded its training camp at the La Mesa dam on Monday and will leave for Hanoi on May 6.

“We will do our best. We don’t know what color of the medals, but we’ll perform well,” said Maerina in the public sports program presented by San Miguel Corp., Milo, Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee, Unilever, Amelie Hotel Manila and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.

Nievarez, gold winner in the lightweight single sculls three years ago, will be under the radar of the other competing countries as he leads the nine-man team also composed of CJ Jasmin, Zuriel Sumintac, Van Maxilom, Athens Tolentino, Edgar Ilas, Roque Abala, Joachim De Jesus and EJ Obana.

Delgaco meanwhile, will be at the forefront of the women’s side along with Juliann Sha, Alyssa Go, Feiza Lenton, Amelyn Pagulayan, Mireille Qua and Kristine Paraon.

Along with Melcah Jen Caballero, Delgaco won the gold in the women’s lightweight double sculls. Caballero, who also bagged the gold in the women’s lightweight single sculls, has since retired from the sport.

Maerina sees the men’s pair of Ilas and Sumintac as strong bet for a medal, along with the men’s four division of Ilas, Sumintac, Abala, and De Jesus, to go with the women’s pair of Go and Sha.

A total of 16 gold medals are staked in rowing.

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