PHI Dragonboat Paddlers Registers Fastest Time in the Continent
The paddlers from the Philippine Canoe Kayak Dragonboat Federation registered the fastest time in the continent when they captured the gold medal in the recent Asian Dragon Boat Championships in Dali, China.
Headcoach Len Escollante said that once they replicated that gold-winning 47.55-second clocking in the men’s 10-seater 200-meter race in the coming Asian Games in Indonesia, it could propel the national paddlers for another golden finish.
“We’re getting stronger approaching the Asian Games. No other dragonboat team in the Philippines can match or at least come close to 48 seconds,’’ said Escollante.
Apart from dominating the 200m event in the small boat, the Filipinos also topped the 500m race in the continental championships, a feat hailed by top International Canoe Federation officials and International Dragon Boat Federation president Mike Thomas, who gladly awarded the medals to the PCKDF paddlers.
“We in the PCKDF have developed a close relationship with Mike Thomas because always see each other during big international races,’’ said Escollante.
According to Escollante, it would take at least 15 years for other local dragonboat groups to catch up with the PCKDF because of the latter’s productive grassroots development program.
“The average age of our paddlers is 22 years old and the only way other dragonboat groups can beat us 15 years hence is to start developing their grassroots now,’’ said Escollante.
Forming a team composed of paddlers from the military, Escollante explained, won’t yield better results since these enlisted personnel has the harmful tendency to prolong their stint in the national team even if they are no longer competitive for a medal performance.
“The reason why paddlers from the military try to prolong their stay in the national team is because of dual compensation. They get allowances from the PSC (Philippine Sports Commission) and receive monthly salaries from the military at the same time,’’ said Escollante.
The PCKDF paddlers, also known as “Taytay boys’’ because of the location of their training venue at the Pasig River in Taytay, easily defeated paddlers from the Philippine Army, Navy and Marines during the open races organized by the PSC in 2014 to determine the team that deserved to represent the country in international races.
“Our formula is simple. We have paddlers who are young and who can train full time without hang-ups while these military athletes have other obligations and responsibilities outside of their commitment to the team,’’ said Escollante.
Aside from dragonboat racing, Escollante pointed out that her athletes also train and compete in both canoeing and kayaking, disciplines whose paddling forms are similar to dragonboat.
“Forming a team whose talent and ability are confined only to dragonboat events will be costly to maintain. Our association is actually helping the government save money by developing athletes who are skilled in both canoe-kayak and dragonboat events,’’ said Escollante.
She added that athletes discovered by the PCKDF came from various areas in the country namely Cagayan de Oro, Dipolog City, Cebu, Samar, Palawan, Masbate and even in Baguio City where there is no large body of water available.