MANILA, Philippines – The soldier-athletes of Team Philippines settled for a silver medal in the small boat 200-meters Seniors A Open event, after a close loss to Thailand in the World Dragon Boat Racing Championships last Saturday.
The Filipino athletes led the pack of strong contenders from Thailand, Malaysia, Ukraine, Australia, and Czech Republic. Powered by its national team, Thailand put up a serious fight till the end, chasing the Filipino crews down the last 10 meters to clinch the gold medal.
Technical Sergeant Usman Anterola, the head coach and paddler of the Army Dragon Warriors, said that it was the most challenging fight in his more than two decades of competing as a dragon boat athlete.
"We gave everything to win the race so that we can bring honor for the country. The national team of Thailand finished strong having the best pool of strong athletes with more experience in this water," said Anterola.
Lt. Col. Harold M. Cabunoc, the president of the Army Dragon Warriors and the delegation's team manager, expressed pride in his team's latest feat.
"What matters is that they showed their very best performance against the national squads from around the world. It was literally a ‘do or die’ attitude in action," he said.
"Unlike in 2011 IDBF World Championships wherein the Philippines fielded all former national team players, only half of the crew had seen action in the world championships. Experience builds confidence, too," Cabunoc added.
The soldiers also bagged a bronze medal in the 2,000-meter event on August 21.
Lt. Gen. Macairog S. Alberto, the Army chief, has congratulated the soldier-athletes for their latest accomplishment.
"You have shown the world the high-level of competitiveness in the sport. Try to claim the gold in the last event," he said through text message.
The Philippines has so far bagged two gold medals, two silvers, and three bronzes in the world championships, which features about 4,000 competitors from 29 countries.
The Para Dragons claimed 2 gold medals, while the Senior A Mixed Open paddlers from the other Philippine contingent contributed a silver and 2 bronze medals.
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