Women dragon boaters create history

Women dragon boaters create history

NAYPYIDAW - Singapore's dragon boaters created their biggest splash in two decades with a bronze in the women's five-crew 500m race at the Ngalike Dam on Friday. 

This is the nation's maiden SEA Games medal for the women and the first for the sport since winning the 10-crew 800m event in 1993 on home soil.

Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand traditionally rank above Singapore in terms of results.

This time, the Republic's women crossed the line ahead of Thailand in the four-team race. Their time of 2min 27.139sec was nearly three seconds quicker than the last-placed Thais.

Hosts Myanmar took the gold in 2:15.713 while Indonesia (2:24.516) were runners-up.

Singapore's history-making quintet are Ng Ji Yan, 23, Shona Chan, 20, Felicia Lee, 19, Jaslin Ng, 26, and Joyce Wee, 20.

The two reserves are Shanice Ng, 21, and Christie Han, 26.

National women's team manager Ng Chee Hong paid tribute to the crew who trained six times a week for months to prepare for the Games.

The squad also bounced back from finishing fourth in both the 10-crew 500m and 1,000m events earlier in the week.

Ng said: "There are fewer variables to manage in the five-crew race so we picked the ones who paddle the same way so that their movement was perfectly synchronised."

Officials hope the showing will encourage more youngsters to pick up the sport competitively.

Although events like the DBS Marina Regatta have boosted dragon boating's mass interest, few are willing to commit to gruelling national team training.

But Ng is hopeful of putting a good team together ahead of the Asian Championships in Macau next June. He said: "This bronze is a ray of light to prove that there's a chance for women's dragon boating in Singapore.

"If young prospects are losing hope or sitting on the fence, I believe this will reignite their fire."

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