Minus the shifting conditions on open water, Melcah Jen Caballero hit her personal best among the finest women rowers from Asia and claimed a spot in the medal race of the World Rowing Indoor Championships.
Caballero, the reigning Southeast Asian (SEA) Games lightweight single sculls champion, ruled the 500-meter stretch of her event in the recent Asian Continental Qualifier by submitting the fastest time of one minute and 40.6 seconds.
The contest was held online and indoors on a rowing machine hooked up to a race system and Caballero reached the finish nearly a full boat ahead of Kuwait’s Soaad Alfaqaan (1:43.2) and Thailand’s Phuttharaksa Negree (1:43.6).
“I had a good preparation coming into the race because I’m also trying to get ready for the Olympic qualifying in May,’’ Caballero told the Inquirer in Filipino.
A double-gold performer in the 2019 SEA Games following her fruitful partnership with Joanie Delgaco in the double sculls, Caballero has been dramatically improving since she resumed training in October last year.
“The result is my best clocking, hopefully my time will be faster in the finals [of the world championships],’’ said Caballero, the country’s brightest hope to qualify in the sport in the coming Tokyo Olympics.
The medal race of the World Rowing Indoor Championships is scheduled on Feb. 27 with Caballero snagging one of two Asian spots in the finale where the planet’s best women rowers are bound to perform.
“Riding a rowing machine produces a more accurate result compared to water rowing, which is highly dependent on water conditions,’’ said Caballero.
Caballero spent most of 2020 serving in the military in the government’s fight against the pandemic.
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