Sea Games: S'pore's dragon boat teams gunning for gold

Sea Games: S'pore's dragon boat teams gunning for gold
Members of the Singapore dragon boat team who will be competing in the upcoming South-east Asian (SEA) Games to be held in Singapore in June 2015. The team has secured a contract with Under Armour, an American sports clothing and accessories company.

The Singapore men's dragon boat team won their first South-east Asia (SEA) Games gold in 1993, when the Republic last hosted the region's top sporting event.

It was the first time that the sport, known as traditional boat race, was featured at the Games.

Twenty-two years later, with the biennial Games returning to the Republic from June 5 to 16, the national men and women's dragon boat squads are hungry for success at home again.

They have been training full-time - twice daily, six times a week - since last October, with some taking time off from school and work to improve their chances of success.

At the last SEA Games in Myanmar in 2013, the women's team finished third in the five-crew 500m race - their best result to date.

This time round, they are determined to do better.

The men have targeted gold medals in the six-crew 200m and 500m races while the women are also aiming to finish at least second in the same categories.

Men's captain Loh Zhi Ying, who deferred his studies for a year to prepare for the Games, believes that the intensity of their training will produce better teamwork.

Said the 23-year-old, who is set to begin his studies at the Singapore Institute of Management after the competition: "It has been very tiring mentally and physically. But we're here to do our best for the SEA Games.

"I'm confident of a podium finish."

While Loh admitted to feeling "stressed but excited" about competing in front of a home crowd, he is eager to prove that his team can hold their own against their South-east Asian rivals.

"It's our chance to show Singapore what we have," he added.

Apart from an intensive in-camp training programme that spans the three months leading up to the Games, the dragon boaters have also spent the past year training under head coach Naing Naing Htoo, who guided Myanmar to an impressive 14 gold medals two years ago.

The teams, however, will not go for any overseas training trips as the Games will be held on home turf.

Said team manager Derick Tan: "It's good to familiarise ourselves with our home ground, which is also our competition venue, so we will be staying put in Singapore."

The dragon boaters received a boost yesterday as they signed a one-year sponsorship deal worth between $80,000 and $90,000 with Triple Pte Ltd, the exclusive distributor of US high-performance sports label Under Armour.

APPAREL

The contract, which will run until the end of the year, will see the team dressed in the brand's apparel for this year's SEA Games.

Speaking at the official signing at the Singapore Sports Institute, Singapore Dragon Boat Association's (SDBA) senior vice-president John McGrath said that it is an "honour" to have the support from one of the leading sports brands in the world.

Naming Myanmar, Indonesia and Thailand as Singapore's main rivals, he said: "The relationship with Under Armour is just starting and it is appreciated, and will help the team move down this difficult road to success."

Triple Pte Ltd chief marketing officer Adrian Chai sees "tremendous potential" in the dragon boaters.

He said: "They demonstrate hunger, fervour and determination in giving their best to this sport, which they are so passionate about."

 


This article was first published on April 2, 2015.
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