Local newbies in fine show

The Singapore men's team crossing the finish line first in the DBS International Premier Open. Like the women paddlers, the squad were entirely new to international competition.
The Singapore men's team crossing the finish line first in the DBS International Premier Open. Like the women paddlers, the squad were entirely new to international competition.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Men dragon boaters win international race with women 2nd albeit against weak fields

Uniform from their powerful strokes down to the way they braided their hair, Indonesia paddled to victory in the International Premier Women race at the DBS Marina Regatta which concluded yesterday.

The 12-crew team, largely unchallenged by the rest of the field, crossed the finish line of the 500m course first in 2min 36.99sec. Singapore followed with a 2:41.39 effort, while the Singapore Institute of Management were third (2:42.90).

Having missed out on a podium finish at the SEA Games, the Indonesians - half of whom competed on the same waters at The Promontory @ Marina Bay last June - were naturally delighted with the result.

But they were also aware that the field was missing regional powerhouses Thailand and Myanmar. Even the Singapore side, who had taken bronze last year, are made up completely of fresh faces this time round.

Said 20-year-old Shifa Garnika Nurkarim: "We trained really hard, so we feel very proud and were very happy to finish first and do well for Indonesia.

"It's a good result, but we must improve our skills and not be satisfied with this."

The Indonesians took home the winner's cheque of $5,000. The runners-up won $3,000 while the third-place finishers got $1,500.

Said Singapore women's team captain Chua Jia Min: "We knew from the qualifiers where we stood against the Indonesians, so the aim today was to close the gap.

"I think we did well and this was one of the better sets we've put in here."

The Singapore women's side featured mostly paddlers who have just graduated from the tertiary teams, with the oldest in the squad just 23.

Added Chua: "The Indonesians have really good technique and were really impressive to be able to sustain their technique and movement until the end. We still have a long way to go."

In the 22-crew men's event, Singapore took advantage of a field that had Hong Kong as the only other international team.

Singapore were tops in 2:05.87 and were awarded $10,000. A late charge bore fruit for the National University of Singapore side, who came in second in 2:08.00 and earned themselves $5,000.

A team representing engineering firm Ley Choon Group Holdings were third in 2:09.27. They received $2,500.

The Singapore men's side also features a squad new to international competition.

Said team captain Jarett Tan, 20, who has been on the national team for only a year: "The objective of the race today was to see where we stand as a new team.

"We're more confident now, and it's a good gauge for us, and nice to beat Hong Kong a week before we face them again at the Hong Kong International."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 06, 2016, with the headline 'Local newbies in fine show'. Print Edition | Subscribe