The Philippine Dragon Boat Team failed to defend its golds in the men’s and women’s 200 meter small boat (10 seater) recently, the final day of the Asian Dragon Boat Championship in Bitan, New Taipei City,Taiwan.
The Philippine men’s team made it to the 200m finals with a clocking of 45.653 seconds, surpassing the national mark in the semis.
The Philippines and Indonesia came into the finish line almost at the same time in the final race. The bronze medal was awarded to the Indonesians after a thorough review of the photofinish video by the race officials.
Thailand took the gold with a time of 46.591 seconds; Myanmar, silver with 46.765 seconds; Indonesia, third at 46.867 seconds and Philippines, fourth with a time of 46.885 seconds.
In the distaff side, the Philippine women’s team finished fifth, but its best time of 53.853 seconds beating Japan in the losers bracket was also a new Philippine record in the 200-meter small boat.
The Pinay paddlers actually came in third in heat 1 of the semis but only the top two qualified to the final. Eventual gold medalist Indonesia and host Chinese-Taipei dominated the heat 1 semis, while Japan came in fourth.
Myanmar and Thailand were the other finalists as they were the top two finishers in heat 2 of the semis.
Coach Len Escollantes said that she was surprised by the strength of the oponents, the same teams the Philippines beat in the last Asian Dragon Boat Championship in November 2016.
Thailand, Indonesia and Myanmar paddlers were more mascular as if they were bodybuilders that made the Pinoy paddlers look like a junior team.
“Aside from nutrition, vitamins and food supplements, the Thais, Myanmar and Indonesian paddlers competed and trained in Hungary and in Europe the past two years, while tayo nung March lang nag umpisa mag paddling. Pati paddle nila latest na made of kevlar atin carbon fiber medyo dehado tayo talaga. May mga foregn coaches pa sila. Buti nga split of a second lang lamang nila sa atin!” explained coach Escollantes.
The Philippine men’s team likewise finished fourth in the 500 meters out of 10 countries participating.
The Philippine women’s team finished fifth in the women’s 500 meter short boat and was also eliminated in heat 2 of the semis as Thailand and Indonesia finished top 2, relagating the Pinay paddlers to the losers bracket.
Escollantes was thankful that the PSC sent the team to compete in Taipei as the tournament served as an eye opener. She said the dragonboat coaching staff will now have a gauge of the oponent’s strength and weaknesses and make the necessary adjustments for the Asian Games in Palembang Indonesia where they will meet again in August.
The Philippine Dragon Boat team will train in Paoay Ilocos Norte in preparation for the 18th Asiad through the help of Matthew Marcos Manotoc, the youngest son of Ilocos Governor Governor Imee Marcos Manotoc.
Myannmar dominated the competition winning both the men’s and women’s mixed team events and the women’s 500 meters. Thailand won the golds in men’d 200 meters and 500 meters, while Indonesia ruled the women’s 200 meters.
PETER PAUL PATRICK LUCAS