THE Philippine rowing team is currently competing at the 2021 World Rowing Asian-Oceanian Olympic Qualification Regatta in Tokyo, Japan. — PHILIPPINE ROWING ASSOCIATION FB PAGE

THE quest for Olympic slots of the Philippine rowing team began on Wednesday in the qualification regatta in Tokyo, Japan.

Five rowers, namely: Melcah Jen Caballero and Joanie Delgaco in women’s lightweight women double sculls, Zuriel Sumintac and Roque Abala, Jr. in the men’s lightweight double sculls, and Cris Nievarez in the men’s single sculls are out to see their Olympic dreams through the 2021 World Rowing Asian-Oceanian Olympic Qualification Regatta slated from May 5 to 7.

The team is hoping to add to the number of qualified Filipino athletes for the rescheduled Summer Games in the middle of this year, which currently stands at seven.

The national rowers admitted preparing for the qualifiers did not come easy as they grappled with the limitations presented by the pandemic. But they were able to manage to conduct their affairs and stay focused thanks to the support of numerous stakeholders, including the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).

“[The PSC] was supporting us and monitoring our progress which really eased the difficulty of our preparation and kept the athletes motivated,” said rowing coach Edgardo Maerina in Filipino.

The sports agency, the rowing team said, was with it every step of the way in the lead-up to the qualifiers.

Through the PSC’s Medical Scientific Athletes Services (MSAS) units the national rowers were able to stay fit not only physically but mentally.

The team’s hotel accommodation, allowances, and airfare amounting to over P1.4 million, too, were covered by the PSC. This includes the additional support covering the RT-PCR tests upon entry to Tokyo, and accommodation assistance on their return to the country.

The country’s rowers are looking to return to the Olympic stage for the first time since 2000 in Sydney, where Benjamin Tolentino represented the Philippines in the men’s single sculls event. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo