SUBIC — At 5-foot-11, this Atimonan, Quezon native could easily make a living in other sports where height is needed, but Cris Nievarez chose his luck in rowing.
His decision paid off as Nievarez clinched the gold in men’s lightweight single sculls yesterday in rowing competition of the 30th Southeast Asian Games at the palm-lined ACEA Beach in Subic.
Nievarez’s coach, Edgardo Maerina, said Nievarez, who is dreaming to become a member of the Philippine Navy someday, was only 16 years old when they recruited him to the national team.
Since then, Nievarez said he is saving much of his allowance he has been getting from the Philippine Sports Commission so he could send more to his family in Atimonan.
“Ako lang po ang nagtatrabaho sa pamilya. Bread winner po ako. Kaya mas lalo po ako nagpursige,” said Nievarez. “Hindi ko po talaga ini expect na mananalo po ako. Ginagabayan lang po talaga tayo ni God. First SEA games gold ko po ito.”
Hint of Nievarez victory came right on last Friday’s time trial which the 19-year old also topped.
Yesterday, Nievarez gave his all and was amply rewarded. He clocked 7 minutes and 34.27 seconds in winning the race where he defeated Thailand’s Siripong Chaiwichitchonkul who eventually clinched the silver in 7:35.01 and Indonesia’s Kakan Kusmana who settled for the bronze in 7:39.54.
With the win, Maerina, the youngest of three siblings, said they would recommend Nievarez to be admitted to the Philippine Navy so he will earn regular income for his family back home in Atimonan.
“Napaka matulungin sa pamilya nitong batang ito. Gusto magtrabaho para matulungan pamilya niya. Kaya gusto rin niya mag Navy,” said Maerina in a telephone conversation with People’s Journal.
According to Maerina, Nievarez trained for a month in China, before he was sent to international competitions in Thailand, Korea and in World Championships in Austria, where he finished 23rd out of 27 competitors in double sculls event.