One Forty Point Six

Woke myself to run
Tracking you every second
In support and solidarity
So cheerily I, donned
The Ironman 70.3 tee

As you race, let the elements
Be ever your fire
In all moments–
Smooth or tightwire

Flow like water
Hear its whisper
Be strong like earth
It molded you from birth
Fly like the wind
Feel it comfort
your face, your skin

Clear, blithe skies
Your guide and usher
Bring forth big smiles
Come intense heat or wet weather

Endure the pain
You are your own companion
Yet trust you’re fain
To champion

To wholly finish
One forty point six

Photo credit: Cyprus Malinao

The next day..
E: How does it feel to wake up as an Ironman?
T: I’m hungry!!!
E:

*Kristine Gumabay, a founding member of Race2Share, finished IRONMAN Malaysia 140.6 with an impressive timing of 15:31:23.

9 Dragon Boat Principles to Help you Win at Life

The sport of Dragon Boat has taught you many lessons that you can apply in real life. Teamwork and camaraderie for example, are just two of a number of life principles that you may have picked up or developed from the sport. To make your dragon boating life more meaningful, you should embrace all the learnings from it, especially those that make you an expert about life.

Qualities like mental toughness, being a team player, or having a winning mindset are just some of the takeaways you have acquired from dragon boat. Here’s a few compilation of some of the most inspiring words of wisdom by national athletes from around the world; and here’s hoping that you may embody these amazing qualities to help you and your team in stepping up your game, in sport, and, in life.

Ed Nguyen


1. Leave your Ego by the Dock Site

“That one crucial part is for members to leave their ego at the door. You can have a team full of the best athletes in the world, but if they can’t check their egos and blend with humility, it’s a recipe for disaster.”

Christine Pezzulo, National Athlete – Team USA

2. Paddles Up! Persevere!

“Keep going, keep your head up, be proud! Always reach further, I was told I would never walk again! I could not, WOULD not accept that! You keep battling! Afghanistan was my war, now my injury is my war! Life is for living; live it to the max.”

Mark Harding, National Athlete – Great Britain Dragon Boat Team

3. Listen to the Beat of the Drum

“I always maintain a healthy respect for my paddlers of all levels, since I am often paddling in the boat with them too. I am aware that as a sole person I may not see or understand all things of all paddlers at all times. So I encourage healthy discussion and conversation from my paddlers. This two-way dialogue encourages respect and cohesion amongst the paddlers.”

Dennis Wright, National Athlete – Auroras – Australian Dragon Boat Team

4. Keep a Fit Mind and Body

“I think the key to success in sport is staying physically and mentally energetic by staying motivated and free from physical obstacles like injuries and illnesses.”

Carl Marco Wassén, National Athlete – Dragon Boat Team Sweden (Sverige)

5. Paddle with your Heart

“We play sports like dragon boat because we love doing it. The awards and medals are only a small part of it. Yes, you will strive to be the best but in so doing, loving and enjoying the sport is already an ultimate goal achieved.”

Nutcharat Chimbanrai, National Athlete – Thailand Dragon Boat Team

6. Practice builds Confidence

“Never give up and have a big goal and ambition. One needs to be very confident on training and during competition. The most important thing is to keep training and practice a lot.”

Wu Chun-Chieh, National Athlete – Chinese-Taipei Dragon Boat Team

7. Motivated to Motivate

“One thing that keeps me going when I’m tired during a race or in training is the knowledge that my teammates around me are hurting just as much and that my opponents are pushing themselves even harder.”

Kiyoshi Morishita, National Athlete – Dragon Boat Team Canada

8. Synchronised for One Goal

“Unity is important especially in a team because without it you will not achieve your goal. For example, when our team is focused on a certain programme today, it requires everyone to be united in following and doing it; when others did not perform well, we need to do it again and again until we have perfected it.”

Riza Canonoy, National Athlete – Philippine National Dragon Boat Team

9. Celebrate Victory, but..

“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.”

Marc Rößler, National Athlete – Team Germany (Deutschland)

Ed Nguyen


Photo Credits: Ed Nguyen Photography

 
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Live An Authentic Life


Dragon Boat World Athlete: What Dragon Boat Taught Me About Life

This Q&A was with Dragon Boat World Athlete, Alice Tran, National Athlete – Team USA.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Alice Tran

DRAGON BOAT WORLD ATHLETE PROFILE

NAME: Alice Tran
BIRTHPLACE: Boston, Massachusetts
AGE: 34yo
TRAINING COMMITMENT: Part-Time
POSITION: Paddler; Team USA U18 Assistant Coach
PADDLING SIDE: Left and Right
HEIGHT: 165cm
WEIGHT: 63.5kg
STATUS: Single

MEDAL RECORD: 
IDBF World Dragon Boat Racing Championships 2011, 1 Bronze, 2 Silvers – Premier Women, Standard Boat, 500m, 1000m, 2000m
IDBF World Dragon Boat Racing Championships 2013, 2 Bronzes – Premier Women, Standard Boat, 500m, 2000m
IDBF World Dragon Boat Racing Championships 2013, 1 Gold, 1 Silver – Premier Mixed, Standard Boat, 1000m, 2000m
IDBF 1st World Cup 2014, Silver – Premier Men & Women, Small Boat Pursuit Race, 1000m
IDBF World Dragon Boat Racing Championships 2015, 1 Gold, 3 Silvers – Premier Women, Standard Boat, 2000m, 200m, 500m, 1000m
IDBF World Dragon Boat Racing Championships 2015, 2 Silvers – Premier Mixed, Standard Boat, 1000m, 2000m

Dragon Boat World Athlete Alice Tran
Dragon Boat World Athlete Alice Tran


Dragon Boat World Athlete, Alice Tran, grew up knowing about the sport but that little girl didn’t know she would be partaking in it someday and become a World Champion. “I knew about dragon boat ever since I was a little kid.” she said. “I grew up in Boston and the Boston Dragon Boat festival is one of the first and oldest Dragon Boat races in North America. My parents used to take us to the Charles River to watch the races and experience the festivities.”

Recruitment

Like most of us paddlers, we get introduced to dragon boat by paddler friends—very very convincing paddler friends. Alice was recruited by Raymond Lem, a friend and co-worker of hers. Her first try at dragon boating was with M.A.D., a dragon boat team in New York. She went for that ‘mad’ practice with her sister who used to paddle with Boston YMCA. She shared: “My sister moved back to Boston. I stayed and got addicted to the team work and competition of the sport.”

Dragon Boat World Athlete Alice Tran

National Team Tryouts

Coaches are gifted to see, smell and feel their athletes’ talent, spirit and potential. Keith Tsui, Alice’s coach at M.A.D., got it right when he asked her to try out for the national team. “I was hesitant as it was only my second year of paddling and had just switched paddling side.”, she said. Alice trained hard for it and she got a call from Coach Bob McNamara congratulating her for making it to Team USA. Alice recalled: “That was the longest two weeks ever but indeed worth the wait and all the hard work paid off. I’ve been trying out for every World Championship since.”

Knowledge Transfer

On her 8th year of paddling, with multiple IDBF World Nations medals on her neck, Alice left Catch22 Dragon Boat NYC to venture on giving back to the (dragon boat) community. “After five years, I left Catch22 at the end of 2015 to pursue something entirely different.”, she said. “Catch22 will always be my legacy. I was there from the beginning and watched the team grow but at that point I felt like I needed to do something for the community and that was to transfer my skills to the next generation and develop new strong paddlers.”

Dragon Boat World Athlete Alice Tran
Dragon Boat World Athlete Alice Tran

Juniors Program @ DCH Racing

DCH Racing New York has a very large juniors program and when Alice had gotten to know DCH, she instantly knew that this was the team she needed to be part of. “They welcomed me with open arms and I have found my new family, too.” she remarked. “I’m looking forward to learning from my new DCH Coach, Randy Ng.”

Life outside of Dragon Boat

Trying out for the National Team also introduced Alice to outrigger canoeing; so when she’s not on a dragon boat she’d be out in the water with her OC1. She loves travelling and so her being in the National Team has fulfilled that–compete and explore. “My favourite part of travelling is exploring other cultures. I try to look for things that locals do.” she said. “I love being outdoors. This is why I love paddling so much. It gives me the opportunity to travel to the most remote locations. I’ve never even heard of Hódmezővásárhely, Hungary until I went to race there. I still can’t pronounce it.”

Dragon Boat World Athlete Alice Tran


Q: In the span of your dragon boating career, was there a time when you had to take a sabbatical leave either from studies or work for the purpose of becoming a full-time athlete?

A: Unfortunately, paddling is a very expensive hobby/sport. In order for me to be the athlete that I am, I need to work. I have a full-time job as an IT project manager. I have to time manage really well in order to train hard. You’ll find me at the gym during lunch time and out on the water after work.

Q: Aside from the training techniques and knowledge you gained from your coaches, do you develop your own personal strategies and resources in keeping up with your teammates in the National Team? 

A: To be honest, Facebook is the best way to keep up with my teammates on the National Team. We are scattered all over the country and have our own lives. We do have things that we rag on each other about. In Welland, Canada, we were driving back to the hotel and we saw a chicken cross the road. I screamed out, “OMG, there really is a chicken crossing the road!” Now, you’ll see chickens plastered all over my page. We do randomly text each other to see how we are all doing and if we will be trying out again. We post our paddling sessions and workouts to motivate and encourage each other.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Alice Tran
Dragon Boat World Athlete Alice Tran

Q: Speaking of National Team, when the race/training season is off, do you ladies hold a fun-forget-the-training-let’s-party-party? We’re curious to know how the Team USA Women’s crew party?

A: We talked about a reunion at some point but because we all have busy lives it’s really difficult to organise. When we are together there’s a lot of jokes, laughs, and dancing!

Q: How do you obtain satisfaction in the sport in terms of the Coach’s leadership and your personal athletic performance?

A: A trusted relationship between a paddler and coach will make me a better paddler. Being a better paddler and being able to achieve your goals is the ultimate satisfaction. Honestly though, the people that surround me on each team I’ve been on and all the friends I have met around the world is the kind of satisfaction I have obtained in the sport. Nothing can replace that.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Alice Tran
Dragon Boat World Athlete Alice Tran

Q: Having competed in several World Championships, at what point can you say that you have reached everything in your dragon boating life?

A: I already have two gold medals from World Championships. I think that’s every paddler’s dream. I’m definitely satisfied but there’s always a part of you that itches for more. If you’re young and still able, just keep doing it, right? The fact that I’m working with juniors now, it is opening a new chapter in dragon boating for me. So have I really reached everything? Or is it just the beginning?

Photo Credits: Fernando Huh, Ed Nguyen Photography, WIFC

 
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Dragon Boat World Athlete: Positive Reinforcement – A Main Coaching Tool

This Q&A was with Dragon Boat World Athlete, Dennis Wright, National Athlete – Auroras – Australian Dragon Boat Team.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Dennis Wright

DRAGON BOAT WORLD ATHLETE PROFILE

NAME: Dennis Wright
BIRTHPLACE: Nhulunbuy, Australia
AGE: 33yo
TRAINING COMMITMENT: Full-time
POSITION: Paddler; Coach (South Australia State Coach – Premier Division)
PADDLING SIDE: Either
HEIGHT: 178cm
WEIGHT: 85kg
STATUS: Married

MEDAL RECORD:
AusDBF National Championships 2016, 2 Bronzes – South Australia Premier Mixed, Standard Boat, 500m; 200m
AusDBF National Championships 2016, Silver – Premier Open, Small Boat – Club Division, 200m
AusDBF National Championships 2016, Silver – Premier Mixed, Small Boat – Club Division, 200m
AusDBF National Championships 2015, Bronze – South Australia Premier Mixed, Standard Boat, 500m
AusDBF National Championships 2015, 2 Silvers – South Australia Premier Mixed, Small Boat, 500m; 200m
AusDBF National Championships 2015, Bronze – South Australia Premier Women (Coach), Small Boat, 500m
AusDBF National Championships 2015, 2 Golds – Premier Mixed Small Boat – Club Division, 500m; 200m
AusDBF National Championships 2015, 1 Gold; 1 Silver – Premier Open Small Boat – Club Division, 200m; 500m
AusDBF National Championships 2013, 1 Silver; 1 Bronze – Premier Mixed Small Boat – Club Division, 500m; 200m


It was during that warm Australian summer of 2008 when this bass-playing World Athlete, Dennis Wright, started in the realm of dragon boat. Grew up in Nhulunbuy, a small mining town in Australia’s Northern Territory, he shared with us his humble beginnings as a paddler-turned-National Athlete and his experiences as South Australia’s (SA) Premiere Class state coach. “I started paddling with Water Warriors, a local club in the South Australia state. I was introduced by family who had retired from the sport the year previously, after many years in paddling in SA.”

Dragon Boat World Athlete Dennis Wright

When asked if he has displayed his bass skills in front of his teammates, he responded: “I still play bass whenever I can in between paddling, work, and life commitments. Sad to say that I’ve not yet been able to do so with my paddling teammates as yet, but there is still hopefully plenty of paddling years left for me, so who knows?”

Dragon Boat World Athlete Dennis Wright

Started as a hobby for Dennis, he then began to take his paddling stint more seriously in 2010 when the selection process has changed in qualifying for the Auroras, the Australian National Dragon Boat Team. “Back then, the winning State Team in the AusDBF Nationals competition becomes the representative Australian team.”, he recalls. “The change has opened opportunities for paddlers around the country to represent Australia in international races.”

“Since SA is a small density state with a large population spread, it typically meant that SA could not compete in a standard boat against the larger state teams. But since the selection process was introduced, SA has fielded a large number of Australian Auroras paddlers over the years, and I have been fortunate enough to be one amongst them.”, Dennis added.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Dennis Wright


Q: How did the Auroras fair at the recently held Asian Dragon Boat Championships? Was it the projected results?

A: I think the Auroras represented very well at the Asian Champs. It’s always difficult to project results in such a competition, but improvement is always sought after.

Q: It was a success, then?

A: The results helped define the success. It was a little difficult to back-up so quickly from the IDBF World Championships campaign in Canada, so it was very heartening to see the Auroras improve their results from last Asia Champs campaign

Q: In three words, can you describe to us what ‘Sportsmanship’ means to you?

A: Honour. Brotherhood. Honesty.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Dennis Wright

Q: What is the most rewarding thing of being a coach?

A: The most rewarding thing for me is being a part of the improvement of my paddlers. Seeing the beginners advance to intermediate and from intermediate they advance to skilled and beyond. The experience of seeing doubt being expunged is proof positive of skill advancement.

Q: How important is the coach’s role in keeping the supportive and respectful climate in the team?

A: Paramount. The head coach (and division coaches too) are the prime point for setting the examples and structures by which the paddling team will be expected to follow. I do not believe it is possible for coaches neglectful of this reality to create supportive and respectful teams.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Dennis Wright

Q: Can you give us some tips on how to maintain unity and respect within the team?

A: Positive reinforcement is my main coaching tool. This stems from the idea that once a person believes they can perform better, they will psychologically strive to perform in accordance with that belief. I always maintain a healthy respect for my paddlers of all levels, since I am often paddling in the boat with them too. I am aware that as a sole person I may not see or understand all things of all paddlers at all times. So I encourage healthy discussion and conversation from my paddlers. This two-way dialogue encourages respect and cohesion amongst the paddlers.

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

A: This is always a difficult one. I’m probably going to go with Steve Waugh. From watching him play I always felt that he had good respect for the sport and the competitors alike. Sport is a microcosm of life in many ways, and as such I am still always motivated by love.


Photos: Michael Daniel Photography (Australian Auroras Squad); Instant Photos Publications Australia (Black Dragons DBC); Papillon Marcel; Audio Reign
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Dragon Boat World Athlete: How to Stay Physically and Mentally Energetic

This Q&A was with Dragon Boat World Athlete, Carl Marco Wassén, National Athlete – Dragon Boat Team Sweden (Sverige).

Dragon Boat World Athlete Carl Wassén

DRAGON BOAT WORLD ATHLETE PROFILE

NAME: Carl Marco Wassén
BIRTHPLACE: Sollentuna, Stockholm, Sweden
AGE: 26yo
TRAINING COMMITMENT: Full-time
POSITION: Paddler
PADDLING SIDE: Left
HEIGHT: 188cm
WEIGHT: 107kg
STATUS: In a relationship

MEDAL RECORD:
ICF World Dragon Boat Racing Championships Milan 2012, Silver – Open, Small Boat, 2000m
IDBF World Dragon Boat Racing Championships Szeged 2013, U-24, Gold – Open, Small Boat, 200m
IDBF World Dragon Boat Racing Championships Szeged 2013, U-24, Silver – Mixed, Standard Boat, 1000m
IDBF World Dragon Boat Racing Championships, Szeged 2013, U-24, Bronze – Mixed, Standard Boat, 500m
ICF World Dragon Boat Racing Championships, Poznan 2014, Bronze – Mixed, Standard Boat, 500m
ECA European Dragon Boat Racing Championships, Auronzo di Cadore 2015, Gold – Mixed, Standard Boat, 200m
ECA European Dragon Boat Racing Championships, Auronzo di Cadore 2015, 3 Bronzes – Mixed, Standard Boat, 500m; Small Boat, 200m; Open, Small Boat 200m
IDBF World Dragon Boat Racing Championships, Welland 2015, U-24, 2 Bronzes – Mixed, Standard Boat, 200m, 2000m


Dragon Boat World Athlete Carl Wassén

For this exclusive interview, Carl Wassén, our Dragon Boat World Athlete from Sweden, has shared with us a very interesting insight about the “dragon boat ecosystem” in his beloved country. His hopes are high that the sport will grow bigger in the near future and that it’s good to promote the sport by developing young athletes. Let’s find out more about this Dragon Boater-cum-Kayaker-cum-Power Lifter.

Carl was a Sprint Kayaker before he got immersed into the fiery world of dragon boat. “I first came to try dragon boat in spring of 2012”, he shared. “Prior to that, I did sprint kayaking and I had no idea about dragon boat at all. I got a call from Thomas Lundblad, the Head Coach of Team Sweden at that time, asking me to try dragon boating.”, Carl recalls. “In the beginning I was not so keen to join due to the fact I wanted to focus on kayaking alone but Thomas managed to convince me and then later on, I found out that dragon boat really suited me.”

Dragon Boat World Athlete Carl Wassén

After months of intensive training, Carl became a part of the National Team who competed in Milan, Italy, for the ICF World Championships in the fall of 2012. His first dragon boat team was Örnbergs KK, a Stockholm-based sports team and in 2013 he started competing with Kajakklubben Eskimå, a dragon boat team from Karlskrona, Sweden.


Q: We’re aware that aside from Dragon Boat, you also do Power Lifting as a sport. What benefits do you get from both sports?

A: Yes I do compete in power lifting (squat, bench press and deadlift) on a national level. In fact, if I may share, I hold the National Record in Deadlift in the -105 category during the year 2014-2015. I guess the mix of kayaking and power lifting made me a good dragon boater. That raw strength you get from power sport is beneficial and the basics of kayaking helped me a lot in dragon boating. I think dragon boating is more of a power sport than kayaking due to the heavy boats that the crew needs to paddle and push to go faster. If you can transfer a 700 pound deadlift into your stroke, it would certainly be beneficial to speed up the boat.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Carl Wassén

Q: What can you advice athletes who are doing multiple sports that are, in a manner of speaking, of much different discipline?

A: Well of course it’s difficult to be doing both elite level sports at the same period of time. I can do them separately due to the fact that the competitions fall on different seasons. Anyway, I think it’s good to have a break after an intensely competitive season and focus on something else. It’s mentally and physically beneficial to the athlete. I think the key to success in sport is staying physically and mentally energetic by staying motivated and free from physical obstacles like injuries and illnesses. I believe that having a one-track mind on something can be counterproductive in a way, so it’s good to have a quick interval or shift of focus.

Q: What drives you to keep on with being at the elite level of dragon boating?

A: Basically it’s about the joy and excitement that I get from the competitions and the sport in general. I like the atmosphere around the competitions and the pursuit to go as fast as possible on the water is another pleasure that I get from it. Also, you get to become closer with your teammates and because of the time you spend together, you become good friends.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Carl Wassén

Q: In your journey to becoming a World Athlete in dragon boat, can you share with us who are your greatest supporters?

A: A friend and trainer who always pushed and supported me in my paddling is Johan Stridh. He’s a teammate from my home club and he’s a former athlete in sprint kayak and dragon boat, both on elite levels. He’s been very supportive and very keen in keeping me on the water especially during periods when the motivation had been poor. My parents have also been very supportive in everything that I do, including dragon boat.

Q: If you are not competing or training, what does Carl do in his free time?

A: I study to be a teacher in Physical Education. Apart from this, training is the biggest part of my life.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Carl Wassén

Q: When you retire as a paddler, do you see yourself coaching dragon boat in the future?

A: For the moment I am not so interested on that part of the sport. It’s especially hard to be a coach when you only get very small economic support from the federation. Dragon boat is still a very small sport in our country and most people see it as a non-competitive sport. We are not really welcome in the Swedish canoe federation and we don’t have a proper Swedish Championship due to the low amount of practitioners. This is understandable. It’s a difficult task to change people’s attitude and perspective on the sport (dragon boat); but due to the international success in the last five years and the establishment of the U-24 team, the sport is growing in popularity for the first time in many years, especially among young paddlers.

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

A: Johan Olsson, a World Champion in Cross-country Skiing. He’s a genuine person who remained to be humble despite being a multiple Olympic medalist. I admire his skills in both the physical and technical aspects in his discipline.


*This interview has been edited and condensed

 
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