Dragon Boat World Athlete: Are you too young to start Paddling?

This Q&A was with Dragon Boat World Athlete, Paul Alex Kandler, National Athlete – Team Germany.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Paul Alex Kandler

DRAGON BOAT WORLD ATHLETE PROFILE

NAME: Paul Alex Kandler
BIRTHPLACE: Neustrelitz, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany
AGE: 20yo
TRAINING COMMITMENT: Part-time
POSITION: Paddler (Occasional Pacer/Schlagmann)
PADDLING SIDE: Right
HEIGHT: 186cm
WEIGHT: 85kg
STATUS: Single

MEDAL RECORD:
German Championships 2014, Schwerin, Bronze – Mixed, Standard Boat, 500m
9th IDBF Dragon Boat Club Crew World Championships, Ravenna, Bronze – Mixed, Small Boat, 500m (Uckermark U18)
Vize European Master 2014, Silver – Mixed, Standard Boat, 2000m
Vize European Master 2014, 2 Bronzes – Mixed, Standard Boat, 2000m, 500m
Vize European Master 2014, Bronze – Open, Small Boat, 200m
11th EDBF European Dragon Boat Nations Championships, Racice, Bronze – U18, Small Boat, 200m
Vize Weltmeister 2015, 2 Silvers – Open, Small Boat, 2000m, 500m
IDBF World Dragon Boat Racing Championships 2015, Welland, 2 Silvers; 1 BronzeOpen, Small Boat; U24 Small Boat, 200m

Dragon Boat World Athlete Paul Alex Kandler


It’s beneficial to become athletic at a young age. Though it’s not set in stone as to what age is ‘too young’ for one to start, it certainly helps to be exposed to sports early–it keeps the body active and it also helps improve self-esteem and physical health. Experts say that athletes tend to develop their mental abilities better than non-athletes.

According to results of a study by Jocelyn Faubert, “It is clear that a remarkable mental processing and learning abilities should be acknowledged as critical elements for world-class performance in sport and potentially elite performance abilities in other dynamic contexts¹.”

Dragon Boat World Athlete Paul Alex Kandler

While it doesn’t matter what kind of sport you’re leaning to focus on, starting young gives you more room for discovery and finding your true passion. Just like our next featured Dragon Boat World Athlete, 20 year old, Paul Alex Kandler from Germany.

As a kid, Paul grew up to be fond of any kinds of sports. He played football for several years until the time came when he found his passion in water sports–Stand Up Paddling (SUP), Outrigger Canoeing (OC) and Dragon Boat. He was introduced to the Dragon Boat world through his school team, Carolinum Dragons, and from there he had fallen deep under the ‘spell of the dragon’.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Paul Alex Kandler

From his school team in 2013, he joined a local competitive club called: Strelitz Dragons. That’s where he became more and more serious with the sport. He began to join large-scale dragon boat competitions and have clinched several medals with his home team. From then on he was determined to enhance his paddling skills and join major races like the Nationals, Continental and Worlds. He’s been competing for four years now and at his young age, he’s had shown exceptional potential to arise in Premiere level in the near future.

So for those of you who started paddling in your teens like Paul, keep doing what you’re doing and if you aspire to one day represent your country in the World Championships, the right time to start working for it is now. Let’s read on Paul’s experience being with the National Team and what’s the best lesson he has learned from it.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Paul Alex Kandler
Dragon Boat World Athlete Paul Alex Kandler


Q: Who was your first coach in dragon boat? Who was your first coach in Outrigger Canoe (OC)?

A:My first dragon boat coach was my PE teacher Mr Pfitzner. Now my coaches are from the National Team. In OC, I’m my own coach.

Q: How long have you been with Team Germany? How is the experience so far?

A: I have paddled with the National Team for three years now and can only say that we (athletes) have no fear. Having said this, one just needs to believe in himself that he can do it. The National Team is very sociable and accepting of everyone who has the passion. In the training camp, the athletes give their best to master the training programme. It’s like everyone is racing against themselves. Although the training programme gets intense by the day, no matter what level or age group you are in, with the right workout there is no problem.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Paul Alex Kandler
Dragon Boat World Athlete Paul Alex Kandler

Q: Will you be representing Team Germany in the upcoming EDBF Championships in June?

A: Yes. I trained hard to be selected and only recently I got the news from our trainer that I got in and I must be there to help the crew.

Q: How are the preparations for the European Championships in June in Rome, Italy?

A: The preparations run according to the training plan that the coach have designed. We have to fulfill it as planned and we have to attend the regular training camps in order for us to have achieve a common goal of having a strong, solid boat.

Q: We understand that aside from Dragon Boat, you also do Outrigger Canoe (OC), how does it benefit your paddling in Dragon Boat?

A: OC is a good alternative when I’m not training with my drachenboot (dragon boat) team. It’s also a great balancing workout so that you can paddle both sides and this is very good for the body.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Paul Alex Kandler

Q: How do you manage your time between dragon boat and OC? Can you share with us the similarities and differences of these two water sports in terms of paddling stroke? Does the stroke sometimes become confusing?

A: I manage it very well. Since dragon boat is a team sport, everyone needs to be there for training unlike in OC, when my team is not available to practice together, I do OC on my own. As for the force required, OC is more difficult because the OC paddle has a larger blade but paddling technique wise, for me it’s very similar. The confusion in the stroke is minimal. You just have to focus on which boat you are paddling in.

Q: As a National Athlete, what is the best lesson you’ve learned so far from the sport of dragon boat?

A: The best lesson I have learned is to not have fear of learning new techniques and strategies for the good of the team. Dragon boat is not just for one person, if everyone is training hard, it’s the team that gets better.


Reference

1. Jocelyn Faubert, “Professional athletes have extraordinary skills for rapidly learning complex and neutral dynamic visual scenes”, Nature.com, 31st January 2013, Nature Publishing Group, 24th May 2016

 
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Dragon Boat World Athlete: From Canoeing to Dragon Boating

This Q&A was with Dragon Boat World Athlete, Erik Åke Öberg, National Athlete – Dragon Boat Team Sweden (Sverige).

Dragon Boat World Athlete Erik Åke Öberg

DRAGON BOAT WORLD ATHLETE PROFILE

NAME: Erik Åke Öberg
BIRTHPLACE: Vinninga, Lidköping Municipality, Sweden
AGE: 23yo
TRAINING COMMITMENT: Full-time
POSITION: Paddler
PADDLING SIDE: Both
HEIGHT: 185cm
WEIGHT: 87kg
STATUS: In a Relationship

MEDAL RECORD:
IDBF World Dragon Boat Racing Championships 2013, Gold – Open, U24, Small Boat, 200m; Silver – Mixed U24, Standard Boat, 1000m; Bronze – Mixed U24, Standard Boat 500m
IDBF World Dragon Boat Racing Championships 2015, Bronze – Mixed U24, Standard Boat, 2000m; Bronze – Mixed U24, Standard Boat, 200m

Dragon Boat World Athlete Erik Åke Öberg
Dragon Boat World Athlete Erik Åke Öberg


Swedish World Dragon Boat Athlete, Erik Åke Öberg, has been racing in competitive Canoeing (Men’s Kayak Singles, K1) before he got into the sport of dragon boat. He’s a member of a flat water racing club Lidköpings Kanotförening and have been representing the club since he started paddling. Because of Erik’s vast experience in paddling and competing in flatwater racing, he was noticed by the dragon boat coach to have a big potential for the national team.

Erik was then asked by the National Coach if he wants to try out for the national team selection. “Yes, I really want this!”, he thought. He worked hard and went through the fitness, endurance and paddling selection process and eventually made it to the Swedish Dragon Boat Team. Amazingly, though, it’s also his first dragon boat team ever. “I have been paddling dragon boats since 2012 and loved it from the very first stroke.”, Erik said.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Erik Åke Öberg
Dragon Boat World Athlete Erik Åke Öberg

Though there aren’t many dragon boat paddlers or teams in Sweden, it doesn’t stop the members of the National Team to strive to be the best during the European and World Championships. The support system within the Swedish team plays an integral part on their success and team unity. They are a bunch of hardworking, dedicated, and fun-loving paddlers. They even have a resident Tenor on their team–their very own Luciano Pavarotti.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Erik Åke Öberg
Dragon Boat World Athlete Erik Åke Öberg


Q: Being in the National team is a tough responsibility. What keeps you going?

A: The fact that I can become better, I have always liked to challenge myself and what greater challenge than compete against the world’s greatest?

Q: How did your experience in Sprint Kayak or any other sports helped you in developing your Dragon Boat skills?

A: My experience in sprint kayak have helped me a lot, thanks to the kayaking skills I have developed. I was able to train with some of the world’s greatest sprint kayakers and learned a lot from them. I’m thankful for the opportunity that it made me more capable to perform well in dragon boat.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Erik Åke Öberg
Dragon Boat World Athlete Erik Åke Öberg

Q: What other exercises do you do if your team is not training for Dragon Boat?

A: I train a lot of sprint kayaking, cross-fit and powerlifting; a good balance of endurance and power is the key to being successful in your chosen sport.

Q: How do you manage your pre and post training nutrition? Any tips on keeping fit?

A: The key is to always plan ahead. If you know that you are going to have a long day at work or school, bring all the food you will need for the day. For example I always bring three or four bananas and supplements with me when I go to school so that I know I have something to eat between meals and before and after training.

Q: Is it your own research or is it imposed by your coach?

A: It is my own research and knowledge based on experience, when you have been competing and training for many years you learn what your body needs in order for you to achieve your best performance. But a good tip for beginners is to keep it simple, bananas get you a long way.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Erik Åke Öberg
Dragon Boat World Athlete Erik Åke Öberg

Q: How do you envision the Team Sweden’s performance in the coming EDBF Champs?

A: I hope we do well! This year we are not going to compete in the U24 group which means that the competition is going to be harder, but we are up for the task!

Q: Outside the dragon boating world, who is the athlete that you admire most and why?

A: I admire Anders Gustafsson, a former World Champion in K1 500m. From 2009 to 2012, Anders has bagged individual medals in Canoeing at the World Championships, European Championships and World Cup Competition. He is a not just a great athlete but also a great guy and friend of mine.


Photo Credits: Christoffer Carlsson, Cissi Velin, Ed Nguyen Photography, Jan Fransson, Joacim Petersson, Michaela Jonsson Lindblad, Karl Lind, TiszaDokk

 
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Dragon Boat World Athlete: It’s Important to be an Intelligent Paddler

This Q&A was with Dragon Boat World Athlete, Marc Rößler, National Athlete – Team Germany (Deutschland).

Dragon Boat World Athlete Marc Rößler

DRAGON BOAT WORLD ATHLETE PROFILE

NAME: Marc Rößler
BIRTHPLACE: Berlin, Germany
AGE: 30yo
TRAINING COMMITMENT: Full-time
POSITION: Paddler; Social-Media-Manager
PADDLING SIDE: Left and Right
HEIGHT: 1.86cm
WEIGHT: 80kg
STATUS: Single

MEDAL RECORD:
IDBF World Dragon Boat Racing Championships 2013, Gold – Premier Open, 1000m
IDBF World Dragon Boat Racing Championships 2013, Silver – Premier Open, 500m
EDBF European Championships 2014, Gold – Premier Open, 200m
EDBF European Championships 2014, Gold – Premier Open, 500m
EDBF European Championships 2014, Silver – Premier Open, 2000m
German National Championships 2015, Silver – Premier Open 200m, 500m
German National Championships 2015, Gold – Premier Mixed 200m


Dragon Boat World Athlete Marc Rößler

They say athletes have better physical and intellectual abilities. Well, this Dragon Boat World Athlete definitely personifies this notion. Marc Rößler from Team Germany is one of those amazing athletes who combines physical strength and intelligence.

Marc started with Canoe Flatwater Racing sport in 1996 and had been successful during his participation in the Junior World Championships and U23 European Championships. “In 2003, I bagged two Silver Medals from my two Junior Deputy-world Championships in Kayak (K2 and K4).”, he said.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Marc Rößler
Dragon Boat World Athlete Marc Rößler

“In 2009 I started to work at an IT systems company”, Marc shared. “That was when my sporting world became a bit more quiet.” In 2013, he joined WannSea Dragons and from there he was asked by a teammate, Uwe Heidler and by Ronny Keil (Team Germany’s Coach) if he wants to try out for the dragon boat national team. He did and he’s been competing in dragon boat races with his club and with Team Germany since.

In this rare interview Marc shares with us his intelligent view on an athlete’s success, his other hobbies when he’s not paddling and some very useful tips on how to be prepared for races.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Marc Rößler


Q: How do you envision success?

A: Success is a question of the physical and the mental attitude. A good training session is just half as good if your mind is not concentrating.

Q: What’s the role of the Coach’s leadership in the National Team’s unity?

A: The coach is the thinker and visionary. Apart from the fact that he paddles with us, it is also his responsibility to plan and develop the training for his crew. Also, he is open to suggestions and opinions from experienced athletes.

Q: How intense does your training go nowadays now that it’s only a few weeks until the European Champs?

A: From this time up to this year’s European Championships we have created a master plan which would become more and more intensive up to the championships. Thus, every athlete can also prepare pertinently at home. I train as a rule from 5 to 6 times a week and align the training intensity and distances in relation to the respective competition.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Marc Rößler

Q: What are your other hobbies?

A: Aside from dragon boat sport, I take part furthermore in competitions in the canoe racing sport. It makes me more calm and relaxed when I take photos and make my own ice cream creations.

Q: Given the tight training schedule, do you still have time for these hobbies? If yes, how do you spend your rest time? Who do you spend it with?

A: Sure, I find the time to do my other hobbies. Friends and family time are important just as the sport is to me and I’m happy to share my hobbies with them.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Marc Rößler

Q: Do you sometimes play a ‘mental video’ of a race with your toughest competition?

A: Yes, I do make it run in my mind before the race starts. I think about what to do in a particular moment and how to beat the planned target for any race distance. Dragon boat sport is also a tactical sport so it helps very much if one is mentally prepared for the race.

Q: How does it help your determination when you relive some of your winning moments in the past?

A: The victories in the past give self-confidence of course and also the necessary composure for the upcoming challenges. However, one shouldn’t relax on the victories from the past; there will always be new aims, new opponents and therefore also new duties. I think this is what makes the sport more fun and meaningful to me.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Marc Rößler

Q: Outside the dragon boating world, who is the athlete that you admire most and why?

A: Ronald Rauhe. He was a successful paddler before I started my own career in Canoeing. He is still one of the best athletes with multiple Olympic medals and World Championship titles. His world-class talent and longevity in the sport is simply very impressive.

 
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