PH paddlers bag 4 golds in Taiwan dragon boat tilt

Philippine dragon boat team coach Len Escollante didn’t mind shelling out US$200 after losing a friendly bet to her player Daniel Ortega.

With Ortega and Roger Masbate leading the charge, the Philippine team topped the semifinal race of the 20-seater men’s 200 meter race in record fashion that highlighted the Filipinos’ four-gold medal haul at the close of the 2017 Taiwan International Dragon Boat Championships on Sunday.

''I had been challenging them to break their world record in every race. All the hard work of training twice a day finally paid off,'' said

Escollante happily handed two crisp 100-dollar bills to Ortega after the team’s semifinal victory with a time of 40.16 seconds, which was better than the 41-second performance during the 2014 ICF Dragon Boat World Championships in Poznan, Poland last year.

With the gold medal in the 10-seater 200-meter  race already tucked under their belts, the Filipino paddlers again mightily cruised to the finish on the murky waters of Fulu River in Changchua County to complete the golden feat in the 20-seater.

With drummer Patricia Ann Bustamante and steersman Christian Burgos, the team also topped the men’s 10-seater 500-meter race and the capped the day with another victory in the men’s 20-seater 500m for the day’s fourth gold medal in the prestigious tournament.

''This is essentially the start of our preparations for the world championships and the Asian Games next year,'' said Philippine Canoe Kayak Federation president Jonne Go.

The victorious Philippine paddlers after topping the men's 20-seater 500m race. Photo courtesy of Jonne Go
The Filipinos received a standing ovation from the huge crowd after the record feat then slowed down a bit with 40.48 seconds clocking in the 200m big boat finale to beat Chinese Taipei’s Fitness Factory (43.57s) and Taiwan’s Ludong Township (47.01s).

For Escollante, the next goal now is to break the 39-second barrier. “And hopefully aim for 38 seconds prior to the Asian Games,’’ said Escollante, whose wards overshadowed the three-gold feat in the last year’s ICF world championships last in Moscow.

The Philippines timed 53.84 seconds in winning over host Taiwan (54.30) and Hong Kong (54.80) in the 200m small boat and submitted the best time of 2 mins and 22 seconds to bag its third gold in the 500m small boat.

Sharing the coaching chores with Escollante were assistant coaches Mark Jhon Frias and Ricky Sardena. The other members of the team are Fernan Dungan, Hermie Macaranas, Alex Generalo, Ojay Fuentes, John Paul Selencio, Jordan De Guia, Raymart Nevado, Lee Robin Santos, Jonathan Ruz and Franc Feliciano.

Topics: Philippine dragon boat team , Coach Len Escollante , Daniel Ortega , Roger Masbate , 20-seater men’s 200 meter race , 2017 Taiwan International Dragon Boat Championships
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