Not known for their long-distance prowess, the Philippine Men’s Dragon Boat team unexpectedly reached the finals of the 1,000-meter race to finish sixth and last at the close of the 18th Asian Games dragon boat championships at the Jakabaring Sport City Canoeing and Rowing Regatta Course on Monday.
Ranged against taller and more beefy rivals, the Filipino paddlers struggled into the finish line among the six finalists in four minutes and 43.641 seconds in the event handily won by the Taiwanese, who took the gold in 4:31.85.
Traditional Southeast Asian powerhouse and host Indonesia bagged the silver (4:34.97) while Korea settled for bronze (4:36.59) at the windup of the event that drew 15 countries from all over Asia.
“Totally unexpected kami na makakapasok sa finals kasi long distance ito. We need that kind of strength and endurance. Kaya happy na kami sa resulta,” said coach Lenlen Escollante of the performance of the game but inexperienced Pinoy bets, who were all making their Asian Games debuts.
“We need our paddlers to bulk up and gain more experience if we want to be competitive in the long distances,” added Escollante of young team whose average is from 19 to 23 years old.
If there was any consolation, the coach said, “is the fact that we were able to best Myanmar, which is a strong dragon boat team in Southeast Asia.
“Malaking bagay na matalo natin sila dito at makapasok kami sa finals,” the coach furthered.
The Filipinos accomplished this in the second semis heat, holding off the surging Burmese in the last 50 meters in clinching the third and last finals slot in the heat in a time of 4:42.951, a mere two-tenths of a second faster than the latter’s 4:43.05.