Dragon Boating: Dragon boaters target SEA Games medal

Singapore's women's dragon boat rowers (right) won their first-ever medal at the World Championships in Pattaya, Thailand.
Singapore's women's dragon boat rowers (right) won their first-ever medal at the World Championships in Pattaya, Thailand.PHOTO: INTERNATIONAL DRAGON BOAT FEDERATION

The euphoria of winning their first medal at the World Dragon Boat Racing Championships two weeks ago has hardly subsided, but the Singapore paddlers are hunkering down towards a new target - the Nov 30-Dec 11 SEA Games in the Philippines.

The bronze the Republic won in the premier women's 200m event in Pattaya, Thailand, has earned them a ticket to the biennial Games, where they are aiming for podium finishes in the four-crew women 200m and 20-crew mixed 200m events.

Captain Vanessa Tan said: "We are thankful to be given another opportunity to race at this level.

"After the last Asian Games (last year, where they finished sixth out of 11 in the 500m traditional boat race 12-crew), the team has been working towards this and the green light to go ahead really affirms all our hard work and sacrifice.

"The last SEA Games for dragon boat (was) in 2015 and it is not certain when the next one would be for us, but what's for sure is that we are going to take this chance to give our best shot against the strongest in this sport."

Despite the world championship medal, a podium at the SEA Games will not be a straightforward affair.

The Republic won its only gold medal in the sport in 1993, and had its best showing at the 2015 Games, where the paddlers won five bronzes in eight events.

The sport was not offered at the 2017 edition in Kuala Lumpur.

Thailand, which won the premier women's 200m event in Pattaya, was the top nation at the 2015 SEA Games with five gold and three silver medals.

Myanmar also bagged a gold, five silver and two bronze medals, while Indonesia had two gold medals in 2015. Both countries did not compete at the women's 200m event in the recent world championships, but impressed in other races. Indonesia finished on the podium six times, snagging gold medals in the 20-crew premier mixed 100m and 10-crew 200m premier open, while Myanmar bagged a silver and two bronze medals.

Not that the paddlers are daunted, though. Singapore Dragon Boat Association high-performance manager Chia Yi Liang is confident of their medal hopes, saying: "Our target will remain the same, to achieve a podium finish in SEA Games. We will prepare ourselves better, mentally and physically, to reach that target.

"The athletes were never alone when they compete, the support from home fuelled them to push through their limits with the objective of flying our country's flag high at every opportunity."

Kimberly Kwek

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2019, with the headline 'Dragon boaters target Games medal'. Print Edition | Subscribe