A combined two minutes was all it took for the Republic's dragon boat teams to seal their desired podium finishes yesterday at the DBS Marina Regatta, held at Marina Bay.
First, the women's team executed a third-placed, 1min 1.87sec performance. The men's team then clinched silver in 47.03sec, behind Thailand who stormed to first place in 45.32sec.
The men pipped last year's second-place finishers Indonesia, who came in third in the five-team race with 47.35sec.
They had improved from third place in the regatta's first round.
"Starting off, we were a little bit nervy. We didn't know how the veterans from international teams would fare," said Jerry Tan, 31.
"Heading into the next, we applied what we discussed. The result was there (they came second) and it lifted our spirits for the finals."
Their performance even impressed their regional rivals, with Thai team manager Norrapatch Ta In lauding it as "strong".
The 200m races, as both teams had predicted, served up nail-bitingly close finishes - with even the competitors themselves unable to tell who had won after crossing the red finishing buoy.
The women's team were less than a second behind Thailand (1min 1.11sec) and winners, the Philippines (1min 0.88sec). As team captain Shanice Ng, 22, aptly put: "We were practically next to them!"
She added: "It feels pretty good, though we didn't come in first. This was one of the races where we've been close to them."
The result bodes well for the team, who were trying a different paddling technique from the one adopted in their bronze medal-winning performance at last year's South-east Asian Games.
"We tried to lengthen our strokes forward and exit faster," explained Ng. "We also had a different way of sitting."
"They had their best-ever set in terms of coordination and execution," said coach Tan Wee Jin.
Though the team face the more gruelling 500m races today - after an entire day of racing yesterday - their outlook remains positive.
Said Tan: "As long as they do tomorrow what they just did, they should turn out fine, and better."
This article was published on May 18 in The Straits Times.
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