What is the sport where the Philippines set a world record last year? The answer: dragon boating, which has been going strong in recent years.
In June 19 last year, the Cobra Dragon Boat team representing the Philippines set a new world record for Standard Boat Premier Mixed 100 meter category with a time of 23.445 seconds to clinch the gold medal in that even in the First Dragonboat World Cup held in Fuzhou, China.
The Philippine Dragon Boat Federation (PBDF) is now looking to compete in the upcoming international competition in Ontario, Canada to August 23 to 24 to once more show to the world that Filipino boaters are among the best in the globe.
In the local scene, Dragon boating went off to a good start on Sunday with the staging of the first of four regattas in Manila Bay.
PBDF president Marcia Cristobal told The Manila Times that the first dragon boat event in the country kicked off in January 11 in Vigan City with nine teams from Boracay and Metro Manila participating.
In the first leg of the Manila Bay regatta, four teams took the top honors in the three 300-meter races. In the open category, the Philippine Navy Dragon Boat Team took top place and was followed by Triton Dragon Boat Racing Team at 2nd place, Philippine Blue Phoenix at 3rd place, and Onslaught Racing Dragons at 4th place.
For the mixed category (men and women), the Philippine Navy got first place followed by Triton, Philippine Blue Phoenix, and Onslaught. For the women’s category, Philippine Navy came out on top followed by Tritron, Onslaught and Blue Phoenix.
A total of 14 teams joined the races last Sunday at Manila Bay. The teams were a mix of teams from schools, the military and police, and young professionals.
The next races or regattas at Manila Bay is scheduled on March 15 and 29.
Christian Villar, PBDF treasurer and member of the Rowers Club Philippines Sea Dragon Team, said that many of those who are taking part in dragon boat races include students and young professionals. There are also teams from schools like UST, Adamson, San Beda and La Salle who were formed by students but are not officially representing their schools.
He added there are elite clubs like the Philippine Army, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Air Force, and Philippine National Police.
World records and the olympics
Women are also taking interest toward the sport.
Rowena “Rhowie” Enriquez, PBDF events coordinator, said the number of women joining the sports is growing but still does make up majority of participants.
“It’s getting popular among women. This generation is into fitness like running. It’s also a way of women saying we can do [what men can do],” she said.
While people from 15 to 55 years old can take part in Dragon boat races, discipline is very important. Training usually starts at 4 a.m. so this means “night life” should be foregone, Villar said.
A Dragon boat team is composed of 50 to 60 members and training together develops strong camaraderie among its members. The age of participants is from 15 to 55 years old.
A team need not buy a boat because the federation has its own boats for the competition.
Cristobal said that Dragon boating can become an Olympic sport in the future and the Philippines can seek a gold medal from that sport.
She said that there are more than 75 countries which are members of the International Dragon Boat Federation, which is enough for the International Olympic Committee to consider that sport as an Olympic event.
“In the future, hopefully dragon boat can be considered an Olympic sport and we can get a gold medal,” she said confidently.
Under Cristobal’s term, two other world records have also been set in the World Dragon Boat Racing Championships in Prague in the 200-meter event for men at 40.02 seconds and 42.57 seconds in the mixed (men and women) events, both in 2009.