Seniors make waves in friendly dragon boat race

   The 75 seniors, aged between 52 and 81, were participants in the Fulfilling Ageing Programme conducted in the 12 Chinese Development Assistance Council centres in Singapore.
The 75 seniors, aged between 52 and 81, were participants in the Fulfilling Ageing Programme conducted in the 12 Chinese Development Assistance Council centres in Singapore.ST PHOTO: SHINTARO TAY

SINGAPORE - With just one day of training under their belt, a group of seniors gamely took part in a friendly hour-long dragon boat race starting from the Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade on Friday (May 31).

The 75 seniors, aged between 52 and 81, were participants in the Fulfilling Ageing Programme conducted in the 12 Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC) centres in Singapore.

Structured to promote cultural appreciation and physical activity for meaningful ageing, the programme introduced dragon boat racing this year to tie in with the upcoming Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on June 7.

Despite their unfamiliarity with the sport, the seniors had little qualms about joining the race, which saw five boats, each with 15 seniors, competing against one another.

An instructor and a guide accompanied the rowers in each boat.

"We listened to our instructor so we knew it'd be okay," said retiree Lee Kim Poo, 79.

"I felt lucky to learn a new sport at my age," added 81-year-old retiree Soh Lim Fong. Mr Lee and Madam Soh were the two oldest in the group.

It was the second year running that seniors in the programme got to be in dragon boats, but this year, a friendly race was introduced as well.

The CDAC said it plans to continue organising dragon boating sessions alongside other outdoor activities in the programme - including a hike down the Southern Ridges - as a result of the positive responses it received.

On the day of their race, the seniors noticed younger rowers in dragon boats near them.

Fulfilling Ageing programme director Diong Siew Kuan, 49, said that seeing that they could take part in the same sport would "enable seniors to believe in their potential for learning, and change public perception of ageing from a deterioration to simply a natural process".