Portfolio of Kimberly Johans

A collection of articles created during my stint as a journalist at The Macau Daily Times

A fiery finish for the men’s dragon boat races

Posted by Kimberly on June 18, 2007

By Kimberly Johans
Published in The Macau Daily Times
June 18, 2007, page 2 (1,159 words)

Results of the finals

Galaxy Stars were the surprise team of yesterday’s dragon boat race finals at Nam Van Lake Nautical Centre.
The amateur group came in an incredibly close second behind Kau Ou Chun Residence Aid Association, with no more than 2.5 seconds separating first and second.
Kau Ou Chun won the 500m standard dragon boat men’s open grand final with a time of 1:56.26 while Galaxy Stars came in at 1:58.61.
The Macau Fire Brigade team came an even closer third. clocking in at 1:58.89.
“I’m very surprised with the Galaxy team. Of course, in a good way! This amateur team did a lot for this championship and qualified for the second place,” said Mr Jose Tavares, acting Vice President of the Macau Sports Development Board.
Asked why the Police Force chose not to participate in this year’s competitions, Mr Tavares said, “It’s their own decision. I cannot answer for them.”
The women rowed a good race as well in the same category, with the Youth Canoeing Club of Macau winning at 2:11.89 and Elite of the Century running second at 2:14.76. The Monte Carlo Sporting Club came a distant third with 2:20.67.
The 500m University student dragon boat grand finals were held prior to the 500m standard race.
The top three men’s teams were the University of Electrical Sciences from Dongbei, The University of Guangxi Minzu and Hong Kong University of Science and technology, respectively.
The University of Electrical Sciences clocked 1:57.36 while Gunagxi Minzu came in at 1:59.92 and HK University at 2:09.01.
The University women’s grand final races showed a greater variance in timings with Beihua de Jilin University coming first at 2:15.67 and Macau’s Polytechnic Institute second with 2:24.86.
Hong Kong’s Lingnan University came third with 2;30.61.
The University of Macau came in at fourth place but the team was not despondent.
““We are fourth place. I cannot express in words. I’m an exchange student from Japan and this is my first time. The training for very very hard for me. I nearly quit but I didn’t give up. I’m really excited,” said student Yuiko Matsuta.
“The most important thing is that we can practice and we can race,” another student, Sonia Huang said.

Dragon boat races in Sydney

The excitement of the dragon boat racing will continue on June 19, with the last day of races. Later this year from September 19-23, Sydney will host the World Dragon Boat Racing Championships.
Asked about the upcoming event, Mr Mike Haslam, Executive President of the International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF), said “Sydney should be interesting because obviously it’s the first time it’s been held so far away from the European and American scene. It’s much easier for Asian crews to get there of course.
“It’s on the Olympic regatta course in Penrith, so the course is superb. We hope as many teams are possible will get there and of course that comes down to whether you can afford to travel to Sydney.”
Macau has bid for the 2010 championships which will be decided in Sydney.
“They stand a very good chance,” said Mr Haslam.
Mr Tavares added that “We are confident of this bidding because we have the better conditions and we know that the International Federation supports our bidding so we are very very confident.”

Changing the rules

Since the beginning of this year, the IDBF insisted that everyone involved in championship dragon boat racing competitions had to use the latest paddle specification of 202a.
“There was a period of going through the old style and into the new style. Now we’re just saying for our championships from Sydney everybody has to use the latest edition of the paddle,” said Mr Haslam.
He added that the rule does not necessarily apply to levels below championships.
“We leave that up to our dragon boat federation if they want to have the same regulations, then that’s fine,” he said.
The paddles used in Hong Kong and Macau are almost to the same specification with Mr Haslam saying that “We actually did try to make the specification as near to the ones used here as we possible could.”
While the Federation hopes that other levels will adopt the same regulations, they will not be insisting upon it at this point in time.
“The actual blade area is the same. All we’ve tightened up on is the actual shape.
“Manufactures were putting curves in where there shouldn’t be curves and shapes where there shouldn’t be shapes and changing the traditional look of the paddle,” said Mr Haslam.

Olympic recognition

With dragon boat racing finally becoming a part of the General Association of International Sports Federation as members, Mr Haslam said that this was the first step towards Olympic recognition of the sport.
“The Olympic Games is the beautiful icing on a very nice cake and if we ever get to that stage then obviously that would be great,” he said.
But he adds that this is not the end game.
“Yes of course any sport would like to become an Olympic Sport. But you have to say the Olympic Games, as good as they are, is one event every four years.
“Any sport is bigger if you like, in that sense, than the Olympics because you have to continue your sport. You’re world champions as an individual sport, your world championships is the big event,” he said.
He said that the end game was to develop the sport and get as many countries and people competing as possible.
“Having our world championships, you know that, for us, is the pinnacle,” he said.
The Olympic Games sis a long road ahead for dragon boat racing. With the IOC putting restrictions on new sports entering and the number of competitors, there are issues to be dealt with.
“If they’re bringing a new sport in, that means either an old sport’s got to go or all the sports have to take a cut in the number of competitors that they have for their sport,” he said.
To get there, they need 75 national federations and an international one; dragon boat racing has 60 federations, so according to Mr Haslam, that’s the first goal.
“Then you have to apply to become an Olympic Federation to get into the movement, then you have to apply to become an Olympic sport and then they make the decision eight years in advance of the Olympic Games in which they introduce the sport,” he said.
On that scale, assuming that everything goes according to a set time plan, the year 2020 would possibly be the earliest dragon boat racing would be seen in the Olympic Games.
“It’s a long road but we’ve made the first step; getting into the gates as they call it. Only this year I’ll be talking with the IOC about the concept of getting the IDBF as an Olympic Federation.
“Then we can start talking about Olympic Games,” said Mr Haslam.

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