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Rowers glued on Olympic return

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The national rowing team will try to paddle its way back to the Olympics when it competes in the 2021 World Rowing Asia-Oceania Continental Qualification Regatta in Tokyo starting Wednesday.

Bannered by Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Melcha Jen Caballero, the Filipino rowers are tipped to go all out to book a trip to the Summer Games for the first time since Benjie Tolentino competed in the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

Caballero will join Joanie Delgaco in the women’s lightweight double sculls while SEA Games bronze medalist Zuriel Sumitac and Roque Abala will compete in the men’s lightweight double sculls of this prestigious tourney where the best rowers in Asia would be seeing action.

Another SEA Games standout in Cris Nievarez is also scheduled to paddle for an Olympic slot when he campaigns in the men’s single sculls.

Head coach Edgardo Maerina said the team is ready to compete following a long training under bubble setup at La Mesa Dam in Quezon City.

“Our Olympic hopefuls are really determined to continue improving their skills. I kept on telling them that we were not able to compete here since 2019 so we might as well do our best,” said Maerina, whose participation was bankrolled by the Philippine Sports Commission.

Caballero and Delgaco, for one, are all pumped up, especially after figuring prominently in the virtual 2021 World Indoor Rowing Championships last February.

Maerina added that things are looking good for them since his wards have peaked just in time for the competition.

“We will be facing tougher teams, but we cannot predict what might be the results of the competition,” Maerina, a member of the national team that competed in the Seoul Olympics in 1988, said.

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