THE Philippine Rowing Association (PRA) is rallying behind the country’s lone representative for the sport in the Tokyo Olympics in 21-year-old Cris Nievarez.

“We will give everything we can for his training,” shared PRA President Patrick Gregorio on Tuesday’s online Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum.

“Since he is the only one who has qualified in the Olympics, I don’t think it will be too hard to get help and find sponsors to give Cris more exposure,” he added.

Mr. Nievarez received news of his qualification early this week from the World Rowing Federation through a communication to the PRA.

He recently competed in the 2021 World Rowing Asia Oceania Continental Qualification Regatta in Tokyo where he placed ninth overall. But he still found himself in the running for an Olympic spot with other events considered as well.

Mr. Nievarez became the eighth Filipino athlete to have qualified for the Tokyo Games to date, joining pole-vaulter EJ Obiena, gymnast Caloy Yulo, boxers Eumir Felix Marcial, Irish Magno, Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam, and weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz.

The PRA, Mr. Gregorio said, is very proud of Mr. Nievarez, who is the first Filipino rower to make it to the Olympic Games after Benjamin Tolentino in Sydney, Australia, in 2000.

But the rowing chief admitted the current situation with the pandemic and the prevailing quarantine restrictions present challenges to Mr. Nievarez’s buildup for the Olympics; something they, however, will try to work around.

“I think it’s doable. We just have to find the right balance with the health protocols and training. We have to give Cris the needed training despite all these,” Mr. Gregorio said.

It is the same confidence that Mr. Nievarez shared, believing he has enough time to squeeze in added training before the Olympics notwithstanding the current conditions.

“There is still two months of preparation, so there is still time. Making it to the Olympics is a dream of mine and I will try to give everything I can to represent the country well and compete with the best in the world,” said Mr. Nievarez in Filipino at the PSA Forum.

He also cited his recent experience in the recent qualifiers in Tokyo as helping gauge where he is now in his game as well as the level of competition come the Olympics.

“The good thing about the qualifiers was I got to feel the conditions of the water in Japan as the Olympics will be held there. It gave me an idea on what to expect during the Games and the things I need to improve on,” said Mr. Nievarez, adding muscle strength and endurance as among the facets he is looking to work on.

The rescheduled Olympic Games in Tokyo happens from July 23 to Aug. 8. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo