PH rowers flaunt might anew with big medal haul
Filipino paddlers stockpiled medals in a continental meet on Wednesday, signaling the resurgence of the Philippines in the cutthroat canoe-kayak international scene.
Ojay Fuentes pocketed two gold medals and a silver out of the 20 podium finishes that Team Philippines collected in the Hong Kong Asian Cup, highlighted by nine golds in various races.
The 25-year-old Fuentes bested the finest in the field in the men’s open C1 500 meters and 200-m on top of a silver in the men’s open C1 marathon 23 kilometers.
“There were a lot of challenges the past three years and good thing we finally hurdled them,’’ said Philippine Canoe Kayak Dragonboat Federation (PCKDF) president Len Escollante.
The Philippine dragonboat squad under the PCKDF won multiple gold medals in the world championships before the pandemic struck in 2020, eventually shredding the national team.
Aside from the veteran Fuentes, promising paddler Joanna Barca fished three individual victories, claiming the golds in the women’s U23 C1 500-m and 200-m along with the women’s U23 C1 marathon 23-km diadem.
Those wins could be the preview of a projected successful PH hosting of the International Canoe Federation Dragon Boat World Championships on Oct. 28 to Nov. 4 next year in Puerto Princesa City.
In kayaking, the pair of Lealyn Baligasa and Kimly Adie Balboa won the gold in the women’s open K2 1000-m.