Cash-challenged Philippine Dragon Boat team strikes two golds
Final score: 5 golds and 2 silver. Mabuhay ang magigiting na Dragon Boat team ng Pilipinas!
I had the pleasure of watching this team, composed of Army men, win the International Dragon Boat race in Boracay last summer. Their dedication to the sport and determination to win honors for the country is so admirable considering that they do not get adequate support from the government.
In Boracay, while participants from other countries were billeted in resort hotels, the Army team (who was the champion) as well as the Navy team (if I’m correct, it came second) were billeted in public school buildings and were content with economy meals.
Thanks to Philippine Daily Inquirer for the photo by John Bedaure.
PH Dragon Boat team wins 2nd gold medal
The Philippine Dragon Boat team bagged another gold medal in the ongoing International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) 10th World Championships in Tampa Bay, Florida.
This time, the Filipino paddlers won first place in the Premier 200-meter mixed event with a time of 57.07 seconds.
Trinidad and Tobago came in second (01:00.719) followed by Puerto Rico (01:03.393) and Italy (01:03.941).
The Philippine team that entered the Premier 200-meter mixed event was composed of 5 men and 5 women.
The Filipino paddlers, who call themselves “Dragon Warriors,” earlier won the gold medal in the Premier 1,000m event (small boat) by setting a record time of 04:57.130.
The Dragon Warriors, who made it to the competition despite lack of funding, are grateful for the support extended by private sponsors, including the Filipino community in the US.
“Nagpapasalamat ang [Team] Pilipinas sa lahat ng sumuporta. Napakaraming Pinoy dito na patuloy ang pagdala ng pagkain tubig at energy bars,” said ABS-CBN’s Dyan Castillejo, who is reporting straight from Tampa.
By Marc Anthony Reyes in Florida and Ronnie Nathanielsz in Manila
Philippine Daily Inquirer
TAMPA, Florida—Inspired by the clean waters and the support of the Filipino community, the Cobra Philippine Dragon Boat Team snared its first of five gold medal prospects Friday in the World Championships at the Seddon Channel here.
The small contingent, sent to the competitions in the last minute after managing to scrounge support from the private sector, claimed the men’s small-boat 1,000 meters in world record fashion, beating Australia and Hungary for the title.
The Filipinos’ clocked a world record of 4:57.13 to claim the gold. Australia won the silver medal (5:00.09), while Hungary captured the bronze (5:03.71) in the biennial meet.
It was first time small boat events were included in the biennial event, and the Philippines is making do in the category after the lack of support from the Philippine Olympic Committee and the Philippine Sports Commission blew out the country’s hopes of defending its 2007 and 2009 world titles in the standard boat division.
The 12-man squad was bannered by drummer Annabelle Pario and steer Ruperto Sabijon.
Hungary claimed the standard men’s, besting the United States and Germany with a time of three minutes and 48.32 seconds.
PH paddler Michelle Evio said the Cobra squad is trying to win as many as five gold medals in the biennial meet and the first gold in the 1,000m gave them momentum for that goal.
“We trained under the same weather and on the same placid water conditions,” Evio said, referring to the team’s regular practices at Manila Bay back home. “But I guess we got inspired because there are no garbage here.”
Evio said they feel at home with the humid conditions in Tampa Bay which mimics their regular training feel in the Philippines.
The PH paddlers will still compete in the mixed and open 200m and 500m in the coming days.
The Cobra squad, also supported by Philippine Airlines, nearly failed to make it to the event because of lack of finances and weren’t able to practice for the small boats category before competing here. Making the gold even more impressive was the fact that the rowers only managed to test the small boats when they reached the competition site.
Still, the squad managed to make the necessary adjustments in their rowing stroke to shave off precious seconds from their time on the way to the victory.
A Manila television station sent here to report on the team’s participation here was told by officials of the International Dragon Boat Federation, who also passed the hat to pay for the Filipino paddlers’ housing, that the event couldn’t afford not to have the two-time world champions in the competition because “it would be like not having Brazil in the World Cup of football.”
Virtually abandoned by sports officials back home, the rowers competed here in front of a loud crowd of Filipino-Americans who also contributed their time and effort to feed the athletes. The Filipino audience cheered wildly as the squad flew off the starting blocks, cutting seamlessly through the water to complete a wire-to-wire performance.
Marcia Cristobal, Cobra PDBF president, immediately sent an SMS to Asia Brewery assistant vice president for marketing Mike Ngo, who pooled the funds that allowed to send the dragon boat squad to send a skeleton crew to the Worlds, about the victory and Ngo immediately sent his message of congratulations aside from wishing the team luck in the coming days.
PAL vice president for corporate communications Joey de Guzman, meanwhile, also lauded the squad, saying “congratulations to the Philippine Dragon Boat Team for raising the Philippine flag in Florida, USA.”
Also praising the team was PAL assistant vice president for advertising and promotions Jess Garcia.
“Congratulations to our Philippine team who have once again surpassed expectations and who make us proud,” said Garcia.