Deaf Dragons gear up for 'marathon' rowing feat

Deaf Dragons gear up for 'marathon' rowing feat

Last year's inaugural Causes Week featured several causes which groups and individuals were passionate about. The Straits Times catches up with four groups featured last year, and finds out how they have progressed since then.

THEY may not hear the pounding drum beats that guide dragon boaters, but that has not stopped "Deaf Dragons" from attempting their most ambitious feat yet.

The team, made up of hearing-impaired members, wants to row 42.195km - the official distance of a marathon - on Kallang River in February next year.

They aim to finish in five hours and 30 minutes, roughly the time an average runner takes to complete a marathon.

It is no easy feat, even for professional teams, because the typical race distances for dragon boaters are either 200m or 500m.

"With the marathon, we are trying to prove that those with disabilities are as capable of achieving their goals and that their potential is limitless," said national serviceman Ryan Ng, 22, who founded the team last year.

Mr Ng coaches the team with his former secondary schoolmate Debra Lam, 20. Both have normal hearing.

Mr Ng, who has an intellectually challenged younger brother, decided to form such a group after reading online about a teacher who mocked a student with special needs for salivating.

To prepare them for the "marathon", Mr Ng and Ms Lam had to come up with new hand gestures to get the team to drink enough water or encourage them along the way.

"It's going to be challenging but we will work out protocols along the way," said Ms Lam, who is a student.

The team trains thrice a week at Kallang River.

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