Philippine dragon boat team paddling on its own
MANILA — Left out in the cold, the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation and its world-class team have managed to keep their head above water even without government support.
Head coach Nestor Ilagan said the PDBF paddlers, reigning back-to-back world champions in the men’s 200-meter race, are aiming for a third straight crown in the 10th IDBF World Dragon Boat Racing Championship on Aug. 3-7 in Tampa, Florida.
“We just want to focus on breaking our previous record and not let distractions ruin our bid,” Ilagan told the Inquirer.
The team, set to leave for the US on Monday night, first captured the gold in record-smashing fashion, clocking 42.16 seconds in the men’s 200m during the 2007 world meet in Sydney, Australia.
The paddlers repeated as champions two years ago in Prague, Czech Republic by improving their record with a time of 40.02 seconds.
Without government funding, Ilagan said they were able to confirm their participation in the world meet through the help of private sponsors Philippine Airlines and Cobra Energy Drink.
He said PAL has provided round-trip tickets while Cobra will shoulder all the team’s expenses for the 25-man dragon boat squad during its week-long stay in the US.
“Without help from the private sector, we would have missed the chance to defend our title,” said Ilagan, is also PDBYF technical head.