[Philippines] The Philippine Dragon Boat Team

Time to deviate from the usual fangirling posts and personal shiznits. It’s time to post something about one of the most under-supported, but amazing, teams in our country Here’s an article that I wrote for one of my school organizations’ project. 🙂

Philippine Dragon Boat Team Brings Home Seven Medals

Despite lack of support and funding from their homeland, the Philippine Dragon Boat Team (PDBT), also known as the Cobra-Philippine Dragon Boat Federation team, and Dragon Warriors, still managed to bag seven medals at the biennial 10th World Dragon Boat Championships.

Held in Tampa, Florida, USA, from 3 to 7 of August 2011, the PDBT won five gold medals and two silver medals, making this their third world title for the event.

The Philippine team won their first gold in the 1000-meter men’s category, setting a new world record for the event by finishing first with a time of 4:57.13. They topped Australia’s 5:00.09 and Hungary’s 5:03.17, which both finished second and third, respectively. This was also the team’s first victory in this category.

Their second gold was from the 200-meter mixed event where they finished with 57.07 seconds, leaving Trinidad and Tobago to finish with 1:00.71, and Italy with 1:03.94.

As if two was not enough, the PDBT earned their third gold in the 200-meter men’s event with a time of 58.069. They were followed by team Australia who finished with 58.175, and Japan with 01:00:735.

The team’s fourth gold was from the 500-meter premier open mixed event with a time of 2:28, beating Hungary at a close second, while Trinidad & Tobago finished third.

The Cobra team ended the competition on August 7 with their fifth gold from the premier mixed 500-meter category with a time of 2:23.535. Australia came in second with 2:29.299, followed by Japan with 2:36.365, and Italy with 2:38.884.

Adding to their five gold medals are two silver medals, which were won from the premier 200-meter men’s category and from the All Comers 200-meter category. The team paddled in all divisions or categories on a small boat, not the standard one.

In 2007, the PDBT also won at the World Championships, held in Australia, with a 41.91-second world record in the 200-meter men’s open category (standard boat).

In 2009, they broke their own record at the World Championships in Czech Republic by finishing in 40.02 seconds. Another world record was attained on that same year in the mixed category (standard boat) with 43.50 seconds.

Those records, however, were not surpassed in this year’s World Championships

Difficult Journey

Winning seven medals and holding world records in a competition held overseas, who would have thought that these athletes are under-supported?

Before the competition, PDBT captain Usman Anterola already expressed that he is disappointed that their sport is not known by the public and lacked support from the government and other sports organizations, despite the fact that they are record holders.

The lack of support can be attributed to the Philippine Olympic Committee’s, the government agency that funds the activities of recognized Philippine teams, decision not to recognize the PDBT as a National  Sport Association, saying that it should instead be under the Philippine Canoe Kayak Federation. Hence, the team did not receive any funding from PCO and became a private organization.

Due also to the lack of funds, the team also worried about their airfare. Moreover, they also had to scrimp their food, bringing with them canned goods and instant noodles.

Very few supported the team, like the Armed Forces of the Philippines, since most of their members are from the AFP, the Philippine Air Lines and Asia Brewery’s Cobra Energy Drink among other private sponsors.

Heroes Welcome

Even though they left the country to compete overseas without any local support, the players were surprised at the number of Filipinos in America who came to Tampa to support them. The Filipino crowd also brought food to give to the athletes, and some of them even travelled from other cities just to show their support for the Philippine team.

Back home in the Philippines, the PDBT was welcomed by their fans and supporters, some of them holding tarpaulins, upon arriving at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

The team also met with President Benigno Aquino III at the Malacanang Palace on August 11.

In Negros Occidental, a heroes welcome was organized for the six PDBT members who came are natives of Negros, namely: Salvador Sumagaysay, Joemar Ocquiana, Rico Pradilla, Crisanto Pabulayan, Junrey Dayumat, and Ma. Aileen Padrones.

The number of “likes” that the team’s Facebook page received also increased to four digits after their stunning victory in Florida, which indicates the rising popularity of the team.

The PDBT is composed of Anabelle Tario (drummer), Ruperto Sabijon (steerer), Usman Anterola (team captain), Salvador Sumagaysay (assistant captain), and Amina Anuddin, Thea Bartolome, Junrey Dayumot, Romy John Dionio, Jennifer Ebio, Rowena Enriquez, Perlito Idorot, Jose Ijalo, Ranie Llano, Marie Michelle, Raymond Morales, Joemar Ocquiana, Cresanto Pabulayan, Ma. Ailene Padrones, Rico Pradilla, Maria Theresa Realizan, and Ronald Tan.

*The photo is from the Philippine Dragon Boat Team’s Facebook page.


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