35 students from Silk Road School (SRS) spent a weekend from 1st November 2019 to 3rd November 2019 in Ningbo to participate in the International Canoe Federation (ICF) Dragon Boat World Cup. Along with some students from Suzhou University, participants were divided into 4 teams, Australian Koala Dragon Boat Team, French Moon Goddess Dragon Boat Team, Nigeria Sun Dragon Boat Team and Pakistan Silk Road Dragon Boat Team.
Figure 1 – 4 (from top left): Australian Koala Dragon Boat Team, Pakistan Silk Road Dragon Boat Team, French Moon Goddess Dragon Boat Team and Nigeria Sun Dragon Boat Team
All teams competed in 2 heatson the first day of the competition.It was a tough race for us the students as compared to the professionals, due to our inexperience.Prior to the competition we had only trained three times. Despitecoming in last for the races, we were full of high spirits. We gave our all during our races and enjoyed ourselves and the experience during the races.The Australian Koala Dragon Boat Team was the only team that had entered the semi-finals under the Men’s 10 - 500m for the second day of the competition.
Teamwork and unity within a dragon boat team is important as the boat can only move smoothlyand fast when all the paddles are rowing in uniform rhythm. The satisfaction we experience when we worked together to cross the finishing line as a team was greatly felt through this sport.There was a sense of pride that we felt anytime we stoodin the spectator stands to watch and cheer on our friends in their individual races. Even though there was a slim chance that we’ll win our rces as we were competing against professionals with a far richer experience than us,we determined to work together and never give up until we reach the finish line. Another highlight of this event was that new and stronger friendships were forged.
Catalina Chen Li shared that the ICF Dragon Boat World Cup at Ningbo was a fantastic experience. She thought that these are the kinds of experiences that truly enrich an outsider's understanding of Chinese culture and tradition. “I was honoured to have participated, and I look forward to practicing my rowing skills.”
Will Breedon, a member of the Australian Koala Dragon Boat Team, expressed that it was a great opportunity to travel to Ningbo to represent the Silk Road School and his home country in the International Dragon Boat Competition. “Despite our inexperience the Australian Koala Dragon Boat Team, when decked out in professional uniform, was able to project an image of a relatively prepared and cohesive crew. On the water for our first daunting 500 metre race on Saturday, we relied on enthusiasm and strength more than technique. Although we placed last, we were able to not only cross the finish line in a respectable time, but also qualify for the semi-finals on Sunday.” This has been a unique weekend spent away from study worries while enabling us to have a glimpse into the world of professional dragon boat athlete.
Tatevik Petrosyanwho was participating in the competition for the second time said that she really enjoyed playingwater sports and decided to learn something new, different and interesting. She shared that the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, people from several ethnic groups throughout China and the world celebrate the Dragon Boat festival, especially in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River. During festival, the most important activity is Dragon boat race, which is colourful and interesting. Her first experience with dragon boating was in June, when she realised that this sport was really enthralling. “When you are already in a two-minute race, actually nothing else matters. It’s just you and the water. When you are already on the boat you can feel the energy, the motivation and the past combines with the future. After a minute you get tired but still you continue to go because it is attractive, and you want to do your best for being the first one. I have pleasant memories after each Dragon boat race, which helps me to be more motivated and well prepared for the upcoming competitions.”
On this note, we would like to extend our gratitude to our coach, Zhao Xin (known as Buck to the students), whom had nearly 10 years of experience in the dragon boat field for his patience and guidance before and during the competition, and our teachers MadamWang Hongli and Ms Zheng Lu for their care and companionduring the competition.
It was not about the outcome, but the process of the competition and the experience that mattered most.Kudos to my friends. I am sure we enjoyed ourselves and gained precious memories and experiences through this competition. Nonetheless, I hope that there will be more opportunities to participate in this sport, and that in the near future, we can have a team that will represent SRS in dragon boating competitions.
Written by: Lim Yin Ru
Edited by: Edward Kwame Tenadu
Photos credits: Zhao Xin, Fatima Nasir