On Chasing your Dragon Boat Dreams

This Q&A was with Yeo Chin Hwei, Vice President (High Performance) at Singapore Dragon Boat Association (SDBA).

About his early years in Dragon Boating

Our featured paddler Mr. Yeo Chin Hwei is known to his dragon boat peers as simply–Chin Hwei. He started in the sport of dragon boat with the National University of Singapore’s dragon boat team in 2001.

Later on, he joined Dragon Boat Team Singapore (N-Team) in 2002. With some breaks in between, Chin Hwei became a national athlete up until 2010. He also assumed the role of Captain of N-Team in 2007.

Singapore Dragon Boat Association or the SDBA is the National Sports Authority for the sport of dragon boat in Singapore and one of its missions is to “develop and maintain a world class National Team at both senior and junior levels.” Chin Hwei has been catapulted as one of SDBA’s Management Committee members from 2012 to present.

Currently, he is holding the position of Vice-President for High Performance in the committee. As VP for High-Performance, he is in charge mostly of the N-Team affairs. Recently, he jumpstarted a publicity and recruitment campaign for Dragon Boat Team Singapore. This will highlight the N-Team’s journey to SEA Games 2015.

Let’s Make History

This powerful tagline “Let’s Make History”, endeavours to attract strong and passionate paddlers to join the pool of National Athletes to represent Singapore in the South East Asian Games (SEA Games) in 2015. Next year’s games will be hosted by Singapore, coincidentally, it is also the Garden State’s 50th Anniversary of its independence.

Insofar as dragon boating in Asia is concerned, teams from the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar, are known to be consistently ranking as top teams in both Asia and World Championships. “It is now time for Singapore to shine in the dragon boat arena!“, Chin Hwei asserted.

In next year’s SEA Games, eight dragon boat events for both Men’s and Women’s categories will be featured: 500m and 200m 12 Crew; 500m and 200m 6 Crew.

dragon boat singapore

L-R: Glenn Chan, Terence Ong, Yeo Chin Hwei & Chua Kwee Hong at Guangzhuo Asian Games 2010

In this brief interview with Chin Hwei, he shared his own journey in terms of dragon boating, and indeed, this man’s sheer passion in the sport and for his country is exceptional.

Q: Would you share to us the context of becoming Captain of N-Team and then one of the Vice Presidents of SDBA? Tell us your leadership style?

A: “Honestly speaking, I never see myself as a leader. I am actually someone who doesn’t like to talk. To a certain extent I am an introvert. How I was pushed into the captain role or MC (Management Committee) is always due to circumstances and coincidence. In 2007, we practically have to rebuild the team after the exit of many paddlers in 2006. Being the most senior of the team at that time, I automatically became the captain. For role in the MC, it was due to an introduction by a current MC member who pulled me into the committee. Given a choice, I would not want to be a leader but when the situation requires you to contribute and since I still have my dream and passion, I think I just go with the heart.”

Q: Any distinct style on your approach as a leader?

A: “As a leader I am not a motivator. I don’t believe in saying too much. I believe in leading by example and making more sacrifices than the rest because if you want others to follow your dream and passion, you need to show them how it is done. Action speaks louder than words.”

Q: If you are to give some advice to aspiring National Athletes, what would it be? What do you hope for them?

A: “I believe in sharing your dream and passion. My dream in dragon boating has not changed since I joined the sport. I have the utmost respect for the Southeast Asian teams. They inspired me not just by their will to succeed and their humility. I want to show that we Singaporeans can do it too. I have retired as an athlete, failing to accomplish my dream but I hope one day I can see Singapore dragon boat to be able to challenge my most respected competitors.”

If there is such a thing as a Dragon Boat Merit badge, Chin Hwei’s race jersey will have loads of it. More power to him and his big dreams for the N-Team!


CALL FOR NATIONAL ATHLETES: The Dragon Boat Team Singapore is now recruiting “New Bloods!” If you have what it takes to be in the N-Team and you have dreams of representing Singapore in the SEA Games 2015, email info@dbteamsg.sg or visit http://dbteamsg.sg for more information and to signify your interest.

Twitter: @dbteamsg
Instagram: @dbteamsg

*This interview has been edited and condensed


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