Puerto Princesa, Palawan — “Nakakilabot!”
Philippine Dragonboat team’s head coach Len Escollente’s perfectly described how the national team had overachieved in the 2016 Asian Dragon Boat Championships here that kicked off last Friday.
Fresh from a three-gold medal romp in the ICF World Dragon Boat Championships in Moscow, Russia two months ago, the national paddlers did not let up as they went on to grab five golds, emerging as the biggest winners in the Asian tilt that was also participated in by Japan, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Thailand, India and Iran among others.
“Nakakakilabot ang ginawa nila lalong lalo na ‘yung women’s team natin dahil alam naman nating malakas ang Thailand,” said an ecstatic Escollente after the two-day event in the famous Baywalk here.
True enough, the women’s team stunned Thailand finishing the 200m small boat gold with a 54.453 clocking ahead Saturday during the final day of the competition. Thailand settled for the silver (54.753 seconds) while Indonesia (55.351) ended up with the bronze.
The Philippine paddlers also struck gold in the men’s 500m standard boat, men’s 200m standard and small boat and mixed junior’s 500m small boat while settling for silver in the mixed juniors small boat, women’s 500m small boat and men’s 500m small boat.
The performance of the team also left PCKF Jonne Go in awe as they exceeded their target coming into this tournament.
“Overwhelming ang result. Ang target lang namin is 3 golds. Nagulat talaga ako sa ipinakita ng women’s team natin. This is something we can really be proud of,” said Go, whose federation tied up with Puerto Princesa’s local government unit led by Mayor Lucilo Bayron to outbid two other Asian countries to bring the Asian tilt to the country.
PSC commissioner Ramon Fernandez was also on hand to witness the Philippine paddlers’ dominance, which he said will augur well for the Southeast Asian Games and the Asian Games and hopefully, will go all the way to the Olympics.
“We at PSC is looking at Dragon Boat as one of our source of Olympic medals. I think, this is the sport which we Filipinos can be a force to reckon with since we are surrounded by coastal areas. That’s why we’re really supporting these kind of events,” Fernandez said.
“Kailangan lang tuloy-tuloy ang pagsali nila sa international tournaments,” he continued. – Alder Almo