THE PHILIPPINE Rowing Association has started its search for someone who could follow in the footsteps of Melcah Jen Caballero, a 2019 Southeast Asian Games double gold medalist who retired early this month.

“We need new heroes with the retirement of Melcah Caballero,” Philippine Rowing Association (PRA) president Patrick Gregorio yesterday told The STAR.

Ms. Caballero’s shoes will be hard to fill having accounted for two of three mints the country snared in the last staging of the biennial meet in Subic with wins in the women’s lightweight single sculls and lightweight double sculls with Joanie Delgaco.

Mr. Gregorio believes though that nothing is impossible.

“A journey begins with a single step and one of the first steps we’re taking is opening the Lake Caliraya rowing training center with the Manila Boat Club,” said Mr. Gregorio, who thanked former PRA president Quintin Pastrana for spearheading the project.

With Ms. Caballero, who had focused on her Naval career, out, Tokyo Olympian Cris Nievarez is expected to lead the national team targeting a couple of golds in the Hanoi SEA Games in May next year.

“The target is to bring home two golds in Hanoi,” said Mr. Gregorio.

The Nievarez-led rowers are also eyeing to do well in the Hangzhou Asian Games in September next year.

“We’re preparing for participation in the Asian Games too,” said Mr. Gregorio. — Joey Villar