In the coming weeks, we will be featuring an interview series called, “Dragon Boat World Athletes”. We will strive to reach out to World Level dragon boat paddlers and ask them the important questions about their passions, training routines, fitness and health tips and their dragon boating life in general.

To make it something light to read for our readers, we intend to pump them a medley of opinion-based, behavioural, funny, and perhaps some not-too-personal questions even (should they like to share). Let’s get to know what makes them tick and what or who inspires them. It will also be good to know some interesting facts about them and what they think of the status quo of the sport.

World Dragon Boat Athletes
World Dragon Boat Athletes


Yes, what’s good with this series is that the questions will come from you. Email us your questions at If you want to ask them some dumb question like: “If you were an animal, what would you be?” (Please leave that to us. HAHA)

World Dragon Boat Athletes
Dragon Boat World Athletes

This series aims to inspire the younger generation of dragon boat paddlers to continue on the legacy, for they are the future of this sport; and if this, too, convinces them to pursue their dream of representing their country in the World Championships and become Dragon Boat World Athletes one day, then it truly validates the purpose of this platform.

For veteran paddlers of any club and those who are already in their prime, this is for you as well. May this sparkle up your health and fitness regimen and reignite your passion and dedication to dragon boat. After all, this sport does not only form bonds of sisterhood and brotherhood, it brings the world closer together.

World Dragon Boat Athletes
World Dragon Boat Athletes

Author’s Note: All images used with permission from Photographer Anthony Gallaccio.

Interview Series: Coach Tan Wee Jin (Women’s National Team)

This Q&A was with Mr Tan Wee Jin, National Coach – Dragon Boat Team Singapore (Women’s Team)

Coach Wee Jin started both in dragon boating and kayaking at the age of 13. Prior to being a full-time coach, he was a part of the Anglo Chinese School (Independent), National Junior College, and National University of Singapore and has been actively competing until 2011.

This young, versatile coach has a Bachelor’s degree in Sports and Exercise Science, a former member of the Kayak Sprint Team Singapore, and a certified fitness instructor, first aider and CPR & AED.

Coach Tan Wee Jin


NAME: Tan Wee Jin
BIRTHPLACE: Clementi, Singapore
AGE: 27yo
HEIGHT: 173cm
WEIGHT: 65kg


Dragon Boat Team Singapore National Coach (Women’s) 2013-2015
National University of Singapore Kayak Sprint Team 2012-2015
Hwa Chong Instituition (College) Canoeing Team 2010-2015
Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) Canoeing Team 2013-2014


SEA Games 2013 – Bronze Medal
19th International Canoe Federation Canoe Marathon World Championship (Asian Category) 2011 – Gold Medal (K2 Men)
Dragon Boat Technical Coaching Certificate Levels 1 and 2
Sports Medicine Australia – Certified Sports Trainer Level 1
Olympic Council of Asia Canoe Sprint Coaching Technical Certificate Levels 1 & 2
National Coaching Accreditation Programme Levels 1 and 2

Q: How long have you been coaching the Women’s Team? How are the women athletes prepping for the SEA Games 2015?

A: This is my second year coaching the Dragon Boat Team Singapore – Women’s Team. We are gearing up well for the coming SEA Games and now there are more athletes who are going into full-time training, as opposed to a few months back, which is a good thing. We are now able to train having a full crew in the boat.

Q: How do you reach out to your Athletes?

A: First of all, interaction between the coach and the athletes is very important. Secondly, there should be sincerity in sharing to them my knowledge and my passion in the sport. These two combined, we will together soar to greater heights.

Q: In the context of interpersonal communication within the Women’s N-Team, is it a challenge for a male coach like yourself?

A: It always is. There’s a notion that goes, ‘Men are from Mars, Women from Venus’; so, as much as possible, I try to put myself in their shoes and think first of how they would feel before saying things. With regards to training matters, it is usually straight forward as those are facts. Gaining their trust and respect is something that helps to facilitate things.


Photo Credit:

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Interview Series: Coach Bryan Kieu (Men’s National Team)

This Q&A was with Coach Bryan Kieu, National Coach – Dragon Boat Team Singapore (Men’s Team)

Coach Bryan started paddling at an early age. He was only seventeen years old then when he first paddled the waters of Singapore. The year was 1997 when he first competed at an inter-school dragon boat race where he represented Hwa Chong Institution.

This very passionate Dragon Boat Coach loves to collect Transformers collectible figures and he loves joining Marathons, too.

Coach Bryan Kieu


NAME:Bryan Kieu
BIRTHPLACE: Johor Bahru, Malaysia
AGE: 34yo
HEIGHT: 165cm
WEIGHT: 68kg


Dragon Boat Team Singapore National Coach 2011 – Present


National Coaching Accreditation Programme (NCAP) Level 2
Asian Dragon Boat Championships (ADBC) 2012 – 3 Bronze Medals
Asian Dragon Boat Championships 2014 – Grand Finalist
SEA Games 2011 – Grand Finalist
SEA Games 2013 – Grand Finalist

Q: How long have you been the National Coach for the Men’s Dragon Boat Team Singapore? Do you like the life of a coach? For that matter, is it easy or tough for you?

A: I have been coaching the Men’s Team since 2011. I can say that I like the life of a coach but the main reason behind it is really because of the passion–the dream to raise the Singapore flag high in the podium finish. That is the main reason why I want to be a Coach. Back then, I could stay on to be an athlete but the community at that time needed a coach to look after the N-Team so I stepped up. In other words, I just filled the gap. I wouldn’t say that I was the best person back then but I felt that there’s a need to impart the lessons learned from the Asian Games in Guangzhou in 2010 and could be carried forward from there and not start from zero again. At that time, I thought that there is a great need for knowledge transfer to carry on the legacy. The life of a coach is tough; but I guess the reason why I like the life of a Coach is mainly because I find meaning in it.

Q: How important is the motivational climate to you in leading the National team?

A: I think a lot comes from within me–I want to do it–I should want to do it. Other factors which constitute a good motivational climate are your resources, whether from the association or from the sports council; and, of course, your paddlers. You have to have enough resources for the team; that includes having enough paddlers, to be able to achieve the high performance you’re aiming.


Photo Credit:

Interview Series: Coach Naiang Naiang Htoo

This Q&A was with Coach Naiang Naiang Htoo, National Coach – Dragon Boat Team Singapore (Men’s & Women’s Teams)

Born in 4th December 1976, Coach Naiang Naiang Htoo began his sporting career in 1992. Prior to dragon boat, he was part of the Myanmar National Rowing Team. In 1997, five years later, it was a dream come true for him when he became a part of the Myanmar Dragon Boat Team. He shared that it was considered to be the more elite sport in Myanmar during that time.

Apart from Dragon Boat, Coach 992 (as he is fondly called) is also into Swimming, Volleyball and Bodybuilding.

Coach Naiang Naiang Htoo


Name: Coach Naiang Naiang Htoo
Birthplace: Pathein, Myanmar
Age: 38yo
Height: 177cm
Weight: 90kg

Myanmar Dragon Boat National Team Coach 2010-2013
Dragon Boat Team Singapore National Coach 2014-2015

SEA Games 2011 – 9 Gold Medals
SEA Games 2013 – 14 Gold Medals

Q: How and at what age did you start dragon boating? How is the sport different now from what it was like then?

A: I was seventeen years old when I started in dragon boating. The training methods and techniques have become more different. Nowadays, there are more techniques used; and, quality wise, a lot has changed as well. These are all positive changes in terms of improvement of the techniques. I can say that quite a lot has changed since then; like for example, with my Myanmar athletes, the training hours have tripled as compared to before.

Q: How did you feel when you first learned the news that you are coaching the Dragon Boat Team Singapore?

A: Firstly, I felt very proud that I was invited to coach a team of another nation—a new National Team; and, this is exciting for me as I have been coaching the Myanmar team for quite a long time already. While it is a ‘new ground’ for me, I felt very confident as well. I just need to make sure that the team will do well; and, I will be there to help them achieve their goals.


Photo Credit: SDBA Facebook Page

15 Motivational Tools from Incredible Dragon Boat Captains

This appears to be yet another random “List Post” from List Blogs that we often encounter online, say, from BuzzFeed or Lifehack. Well, apparently, it is! Only this time, it contains real experiences and genuine wisdom shared by Dragon Boat Captains who I admire and respect in my dragon boating life in Singapore.

In anticipation of the upcoming Singapore Dragon Boat Festival, I have asked Team Captains from various dragon boat teams based in Singapore and each of them has shared their method or style of leadership. While these amazingly inspiring captains have different styles in leading, inspiring and motivating their teams, at the end of the day, it’s really all about the camaraderie, unity, fitness, enjoyment and the love of the sport.

dragon boat singapore

1. Leadership style has to be authentic

One Team Captain said, “I think it’s very important in dragon boat, as in other sports that the Captain leads from the front. This means that he/she needs to be one of the top paddlers (not necessarily the absolute top time trialist, but definitely one of the top group), and have been paddling for long enough to have the experience, technique and know how to lead the others.”

2. Set an excellent example

He continued: “They need to be willing to put in the hours required, ideally being at every session so that they become the main stay or pillar around which the rest of the team can be built. They need to be mindful of others and the team dynamic and to encourage others through talk and action. They should know the individuals within the team and always work to encourage and push them to improve.

3. The Captain’s role

The role is very different to a coach or team manager. The coach manages technique and strategy, the manager the logistics. The Captain needs to inspire those around him to train harder, push harder, to never give up and to always chase victory.“, he ended with this (but asked not-to-be-named).

I am a big fan of this team’s passion, unity and strength! (All my loudest virtual cheers to its Captain and members!)

dragon boat singapore

4. Be united

Formerly called, Okinawa Dragonboat Club, headed by Ex-Captains Kei Iwamoto and Noriko Yoshimura, the all-new Japan Dragons is now blessed with the leadership of Shingo Ogi. New name, new captain; same united team.

He said that changing the name was his first job. “Everybody knows previous name is Okinawa Dragonboat Club but Okinawa is only one of the prefectures in Japan.” He wants to carry his country’s name to be able to attract many Japanese paddlers to join the team. (Of course other nationalities are welcome as well).

5. Goal setting

The challenge of getting more new members has not prevented the team to continue on and train to be strong and united and as Team Captain, he believes in setting goals for the team and its members.

6. One for all, all for one

Team sports means: One of all, all for one.” The team targets to join the SDBA-AustCham 10K challenge and is also preparing for the 200m sprint races in November 2014. As Team Captain, he thrives to be impartial and wants to hear every member’s opinion on the training program and what are the areas to be improved. They organise BBQ Parties, Game Nights and other social activities. “Get more training to gain more stamina.” Less (words) is indeed more for Captain Ogi San!

dragon boat singapore

7. Passion is contagious

“Emails and words alone may work in offices, but not on the water and definitely not on race day.” – Tharin Walker

Ex-Captain of the American Team (2008, 2009, 2010, and 2012), Tharin shared: “Leadership by example is a common phrase, but it’s extremely meaningful in Singapore dragon boat clubs. In jobs or military service, there are factors like pay and promotion. In our teams, these factors simply don’t exist. If the leadership of a team wants members to put their time, their energy and their hearts into the more or less year-round season we have here, then they must set the example they want club members to emulate.

8. Learning cross-cultural leadership

As a former captain of my own team, Tharin has been an inspiration to me. Together with Wayne, Chris and John, Tharin has mentored me in so many ways during my term as Chairman of the International Dragon Boat Community (IDBC) Singapore. It was where I’ve witnessed his style of leading and representing the American Dragons Singapore, a team which is also composed of different nationalities. The ever fierce Captain Francisca Ferreira de Almeida took over in 2013.

dragon boat singapore

Our next featured Dragon Boat Captain is the Iron Lady and current President of the Filipino Dragons (Singapore) or FDS. Former FDS Women’s Captain, Michelle Nadal Balagot is known in the community as Mickee, she has been with the team since 2008. When the team was just starting, she assumed several roles including Membership Committee Head. Currently, Mickee is working closely with FDS Team Captains, Jaz Quevada and Jen Macapagal, and Assistant Captains Michael Bacareza and Marian Seva.

9. There’s time to rest and there’s time to party

WORD: “Get your well-deserved rest. It’s an early start tomorrow and we want everyone to be fresh and strong! Thinking of partying and drinking alcohol tonight? Think twice… you are important to the team. Don’t be a mess, be at your best!” Lino Arboleda Jr., Founding Team Captain of FDS, also reminds the members of this, especially when the team is preparing for big races.

10. Inspire and Transform

When asked about her style of leadership, she remarked: “I have a strong belief in the fact that as captains, we should first serve as role models to the team by being visible during trainings and manifesting discipline as an athlete. Although we are a club, it has been established that competitiveness comes alive each time we go for a race.

11. Keeping the Momentum Up

Having said that, we try to keep the momentum up by always giving a reminder to the team that we are one in going for the win and that we will have to work hard for it. It is always inspiring to look back on how the team started. We always have to recognize the fact that winning does not happen overnight, it is something a team should work hard for and that we have to accept and embrace every challenge that comes along our way because through that, we achieve excellence. Lastly, more than our arms and core… we do paddle with our HEARTS.”, Mickee ended.

dragon boat singapore

Our next Dragon Boat Captain is Marcin Czaplicki of the Spanish Armada. He is the successor of former Captain Unai Rodriguez. Marcin has been actively representing his team, along with Enzo Acerbi, in the IDBC Singapore.

12. Paddle as One

As Captain, Marcin said, “I tell them (team) that dragon boat is different from all other team sports. It is a sport where twenty two individuals have to become as one individual.

13. Sportsmanship = Victory

Marcin believes that the core (team officers) has to put everything that they can for the members. However, all the strokes that bring the team to victory are from all the paddlers. “In the end, the team’s victory is what you make of the training and the attitude before, during and after the races.

dragon boat singapore

One of my favourite teams in Singapore is the Dragon Riders. They are a close-knit bunch of happy individuals. Through IDBC, I met three of their secret weapons: Ka Lin, Connie and Yimin. Ka Lin Ng has been the Team Manager for the past two years after her stint as Women’s Captain. The Dragon Riders has three captains, they are: Senior Captain, Men’s Captain and Women’s Captain.

14. Open Communication

The Dragon Riders Captains wanted to share to us that, “We always aim to do our best for the team above the individual. We lead by example, show genuine care, concern and respect for one another, maintain open and personal one on one communication with all members to build an all-inclusive team and encourage all to win collectively.

15. Reaching Out

Ka Lin remarked: “Having a good working committee to provide/listen up for feedback, reaching out to members and managing team operations are the keys to maintaining team comfort.

dragon boat singapore

I would like to thank you, the reader, dragon boater or supporter, for taking time to read (and hopefully share) this post. The Dragon Boat Team Captains featured here were kind enough to share to us their own methods of leading and inspiring their teams.

Nonetheless, no matter what fashion they wield in order to encourage and inspire, be it during trainings or races, I guess more than keeping fit, being inspired and getting motivated; being in the dragon boat world helps strengthen our sense of cooperation and build good character, too. We learn more of the value of patience, practice and persistence.

Salute to our Dragon Boat Captains! Salute to us, and this big family of dragon boaters in Singapore.

All the best in the forthcoming #SDBF2014!


Photo Credits: Kelvin Pao (Spanish Armada); Samuel Kolehmainen (Gaelic Dragons)
Blog Masthead Design: Jay Valentine (Filipino Dragons)

Community Reminder: All activities in the reservoir are to be carried out only during daylight hours from 7am to 7pm.
Community Announcement: Please support our very own Dragon Boat Team Singapore on their journey to the SEA Games 2015! Recruitment is on, so register your interest HERE.

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