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: From Neophyte to World Champion

This Q&A was with Dragon Boat World Athlete, Corinne Hanlon, National Athlete – Canadian National Dragon Boat Team.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Corinne Hanlon


NAME: Corinne Hanlon
BIRTHPLACE: Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada
AGE: 26yo
HEIGHT: 173cm
WEIGHT: 66kg
STATUS: In a relationship

IDBF Club Crew World Championships 2010, 3 Bronzes  – U23 Mixed, 200m, 500m, 1000m
IDBF World Dragonboat Racing Championship 2011, 4 Golds – U23 Women’s, 200m, 500m, 1000m, 2000m
IDBF Club Crew World Championships 2012, 3 Silvers – U24 Mixed, 200m, 500m, 2000m
IDBF World Dragonboat Racing Championship 2015, 8 Golds – Mixed, U24 Women’s Mixed, 200m, 500m, 1000m, 2000m

Our featured Dragon Boat World Athlete, Corinne Hanlon, is a graduate of University of Waterloo with a Masters Degree in Geochemistry. This World Champion loves indie music and board games, especially Dominion. She has a twin sister, “a non-dragon boater though”, she said. Corinne now paddles with the Outer Harbour Warriors. She describes them as a group of extremely hard working folks who love to paddle.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Corinne Hanlon


The very first time Corinne experienced dragon boating was in 2009. It was during the United Way Charity Regatta, at a camp where she used to work. She was never into sports back then but when school started, and because of that first dragon boat experience, she joined the University of Waterloo Dragon Boat Club (UWDBC).

“I started attending more practices.”, she recalled. “After the first summer racing with UWDBC, I knew this was the team I wanted to be on for the rest of my university days. They showed me what being part of a team is really like, and that’s what really pushed me to become the athlete that I am today.”

Dragon Boat World Athlete Corinne Hanlon
Dragon Boat World Athlete Corinne Hanlon


Corinne’s first international exposure was in 2010. She paddled with the Pickering Dragon Boat Club (PDBC) U24 in Macau, China for the Club Crew World Championships (CCWC). The following year, she tried out for Canadian National Team U24 where she successfully earned a spot in the Women’s Team.

“I followed a training schedule that our coach gave me.”, she said. “I tried to watch my diet as best as I could (being the noob I was), particularly during the months leading up to the competition. Most importantly, I learned that I love to compete. I wanted to win, and I was willing to put in the work to win.”

When asked on her decision to join the National Team: “It was a great learning experience and I got the chance to see a national team try-out process from beginning to end. I got to work with some great coaches, and I got to see what it’s like to paddle in a really fast boat, and I loved it.”

Dragon Boat World Athlete Corinne Hanlon
Dragon Boat World Athlete Corinne Hanlon

A Magnanimous Act

In 2012, the UWDBC received a very generous donation from Dragon Boat Canada, the official governing body for the sport of Dragon Boat in Canada. It was a dragon boat and a storage container. It came just in time for their preparation for CCWC in Hong Kong.

“It was an amazing development. Before that season we had to travel to Toronto on weekends to train; but when we had our own boat, we could get out on the water any day of the week, at any time of day, and boy did we take advantage! That summer was filled with late night paddle practices, early morning drylands, and team bonding days.”, Corinne reminisced.

While she’s excited to bring her paddling career to the next stage, let’s discover how she prepares for races, her healthy perspective of the sport and her take on what would boost more interest in the sport.

Q: As a National Athlete who had previously competed in Club Crew World Championships (CCWC) in Macau and Hong Kong, in terms of preparation, what is the main difference between representing a club as opposed to representing your country?

A: The selection process is a bit different. When you are representing your club, your club must qualify the previous year at Nationals. When you are representing your country, you must try out for the team as an individual.

Q: You mentioned that you started to compete internationally from 2010; if any, how did it change your perspective on the ‘competitiveness’ of this sport?

A: Competing locally, you really only see the teams that are in the vicinity, although occasionally some teams travel in from Montreal, Vancouver, or the US. I don’t think I realized the true expanse of the dragon boat community until I competed internationally. It was (and always is) really cool to see the huge number of teams from around the world come together to compete.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Corinne Hanlon
Dragon Boat World Athlete Corinne Hanlon

Q: Dragon Boat brings people and even nations together, aside from this, what are the other benefits?

A: It sounds cheesy, but it’s a great way to stay fit and have fun. Your teammates will be your friends for life, and you will never work as hard in the gym or on the water as when your team is there, counting on you and supporting you at the same time.

Q: Do you sometimes play a mental video of a race against your toughest competition?

A: I don’t like visualizing really tough competition, because doing so usually causes me to panic and not paddle well. I try to visualize a race which I will be happy with myself for racing, and that allows me to focus, stay in control, and give it my all.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Corinne Hanlon

Q: From 2009 up to the present, you must have trained with several coaches already, what is the most common impact/lesson from among your coaches which you’d remember for the longest time?  Can you share it with us and how did it affect you as a person?

A: Take care of yourself and paddle smart. Being competitive athletes, it’s easy to get caught up in the training. Make sure to drink lots of water, sleep at least 8 hours a night, and take care of injuries. Your team needs you to be strong AND healthy.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Corinne Hanlon

Q: In 2012, Dragon Boat Canada has donated a boat to your team. This was a very generous move by the Association; moreso, a great way to promote the sport. What is your personal idea of boosting our sport to be at par with the more popular ones?

A: Yes, it was extremely generous! Having access to a boat streamlined the formation of the Waterloo Paddling Club, and since then it has expanded to include teams of UWaterloo Alumni, Breast Cancer Survivors, and high school students in the Waterloo Region. In my opinion, continued outreach will help in boosting interest in the sport.

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

A: Definitely Camille Leblanc-Bazinet. Aside from her impressive weightlifting, her determination, focus, and light-heartedness are all inspiring attributes.

Photos: George Wang, Alexandra Hennig, Ricky Tjandra, Colleen Leung, Fancy Lai, Vincent Chu, Anthony Gallaccio, Ed Nguyen

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Dragon Boat World Athlete: Pursuing A World Championship Dream – How Important is Social Support for Athletes?

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

Dragon Boat World Athlete Tek Li


NAME: Terence Li
BIRTHPLACE: San Francisco, California, USA
AGE: 25yo
PADDLING SIDE: Both, but prefer Right side
HEIGHT: 175cm
WEIGHT: 72kg
STATUS: Never married

IDBF World Dragon Boat Racing Championships – SilverU23, 2011, Tampa
IDBF World Dragon Boat Racing Championships – SilverU24, 2015, Welland

Dragon Boat World Athlete, Tek Li, is the eldest of three. His parents both immigrated to the United States from southern China. He is fluent in Cantonese and Mandarin. “I’m kind of a neat freak except when work gets busy”, he shared with us.

Tek started to paddle when he was in his second year of high school in 2005. Standing tall at 5’2” (157cm) and weighing 110lbs (50kg), he joined the Mission High School Dragon Boat Team. Since that time, he’s been paddling and likewise honing his leadership and technical skills in the sport. While he progressed as an experienced paddler he also gained the respect of his peers.

Already on his second year as Membership Director at California Dragon Boat Association (CDBA), a role which requires a substantial amount of time and dedication, he’s become more confident and accomplished in carrying out the task. The CDBA has over 1,000 members and is under the Pacific Dragon Boat Association of the West Coast (PDBA USA).

As a seasoned paddler, he was able to help reboot Stanford University’s Dragon Boat Team and then he eventually landed himself a place on his current team, the San Francisco Dragon Warriors. To date, it’s been 11 fun years of dragon boating for him.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Tek Li

Q: Hi Tek, first of all, thank you for providing us with this interview. It’s really a pleasure to be interviewing you. How did you feel at first, when we approached you for this feature?

A: Thanks for the opportunity. I was really surprised that you asked me, I feel like a celebrity. I Just shope that what I’ll share can be inspiring, thought-provoking, or just simply entertaining for your readers.

Q: We want to know how does it ‘really’ feel like to be paddling for one’s country?

A: To me, representing the country is a big deal. Honestly, it’s really scary because I never feel like I’m good enough. When I’m out there during the competition, I suppress that voice of doubt, keeping calm nerves and trying to perform my best. There’s just a lot of pressure.

Q: When your team lands a World Championships podium finish and you’re standing there, elated and victorious with your team mates, what goes on in your head?

A: It’s really a tearjerking moment, to see the training that we’ve put in turn into something. The fact that dragon boating is a team sport makes it all the more special. I am just one piece of the puzzle, but together we did it. When I’m up there, I’m grateful for my teammates for all the team efforts.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Tek Li

Q: Let us move along to something less emotional. 🙂 We understand that trainings, especially in preparation for Worlds, take months and months to prepare and are extremely physically demanding, how do you condition yourself to achieving that long-range goal?

A: It takes a huge amount of dedication, work, and determination to get to and maintain an elite level of fitness. In order to condition myself, I really need someone else to push me. I stay active and train with a home team to get pushed. As disciplined as I want to believe that I am, having a coach and teammates pushing alongside me get me the best results. In addition to being physically fit, there’s a huge mental aspect to conditioning, too. I look for coaches and teammates who would (within reason) challenge me to my limit, to get me to want to fail, and to transcend that mental barrier.

Q: In your USA National Team journey, was there a time where you failed to make it to an international race that you really wanted to be a part of?

A: I wish I could have participated in the IDBF World Dragon Boat Championships 2013 in Hungary. I had travel conflicts and the education program I was in occupied a significant amount of time. Hence, I have not dedicated enough time for training.

Q: How did you cope with the disappointment?

A: I was disappointed. I knew that I didn’t have enough time so I reassessed the amount of time I had. There wasn’t a realistic way for me to happily and sanely complete my education program and train to the elite level. I just told myself that someone equally capable and strong will hopefully earn that spot.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Tek Li

Q: Once the training and preparation starts, how do you manage your time between trainings and your social life? Do you still have one? 🙂

A: Eh. Yes and no. Once training starts, I can’t go out partying every weekend. I spend a lot more time on the water and in the gym instead of out and about. Balance is important though. I’ve been able to coincide rest days with hanging out with friends. I’ve also tried to build in more time to spend with my parents. Also, practices with Dragon Warriors… that’s my social life!

Q: In your opinion, how important is social support for an athlete? For that matter, who are your best supporters?

A: Social support is critical for an athlete. I want people to be proud of me and to be proud of the effort I put forth. I compete because I enjoy training hard, but I wouldn’t be able to get to the world stage if not for my family who instilled the work ethic in me. I would not have made it if my coaches and teammates were not there to push me. My best supporters are my mentors and friends. They share my journey and my ambitions louder and farther than I would ever be able to.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Tek Li

Q: At what point can you say that you have reached everything in dragon boating?

A: Once dragon boating is in the Olympics and I can participate in it, I would have reached everything in dragon boating.

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

A: I really admire Eric Guerrero, a freestyle wrestler. I met him when I went to an Oklahoma State University wrestling camp during the same year that I joined dragon boat. He is a hard worker, disciplined, humble, and approachable. He reached an elite level, but then also gave back to the community as a coach.

Photos by Scott M, Debbie S, Shoulong L, Anthony Gallaccio
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Dragon Boat World Athlete: Women in Dragon Boat – What drives them to keep on paddling?

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

Dragon Boat World Athlete Chloe Gear


NAME: Chloe Gear
BIRTHPLACE: Albury City, Australia
AGE: 20yo
POSITION: Drummer/Paddler
HEIGHT: 166cm
WEIGHT: 58kg
STATUS: Single

IDBF World Dragon Boat Racing Championships, GoldU24 Women, 200m, 500m, 2000m, 2015
IDBF World Dragon Boat Racing Championships, BronzeU24 Mixed, 200m, 1000m 2015
Australian Dragon Boat Racing Championships, GoldPremier Women, 200m, 500m, 2000m, 2015
Australian Dragon Boat Racing Championships, GoldPremier Mixed, 200m, 2000m, 2015
Australian Dragon Boat Racing Championships, GoldPremier Open, 2000m, 2015
Australian Dragon Boat Racing State Championship, SilverPremier Women, 500m, 2015
Australian Dragon Boat Racing State Championship, SilverU24 Mixed, 200m, 500m, 2015

This very promising Dragon Boat World Athlete, Chloe Gear, was in her final year of high school when she got into Dragon Boating. It was through her mum’s corporate team in 2013 where she was trained as the team’s drummer back then.

The club’s coach had convinced Chloe to come back and drum for them in the next regatta and from that day on, she’s been drumming and paddling. She’s now a dedicated Aurora–a member of the Australian National Dragon Boat Team. She confessed that she has developed a substantial movie collection as she would spend her rest days couching on the sofa and do a movie marathon.

“It all happened at the right moment. After ten years of being a competitive dancer and also rehabilitating from an injury, I was looking for a new sport to pursue. My first club was the Albury/Wodonga Warriors and in 2015, I moved to Melbourne and became a Melbourne Flame.”, Chloe shared.

From a newbie drummer to becoming a Dragon Boat World Athlete, may her story inspire the younger paddlers and likewise allow the veterans to rekindle how they started (and how they eventually got immersed) in this wonderful world of dragon boat paddling.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Chloe Gear

Q: How does team practice going during this period?

A: Team practice is going very well, we are making good progress and are where we need to be in preparation for our upcoming competitions.

Q: What major races are you preparing for now and how much do you train nowadays?

A: The Australian National team is preparing to compete at the 12th Asian Dragon Boat Championships while my club the Melbourne Flames is currently preparing for the Australian Dragon Boat Championships and the Club Crew World Championships all being held in Adelaide starting at the end of March. I currently train twice a day, six days a week. I have a cardio session in the morning being running or doing laps at my local pool for about an hour and then attend dragon boat sessions in the evening.

Q: Given the number of hours of practice per week, how do you keep up with it? Does it affect how you manage your sleeping patterns?

A: I’ve learnt to prioritize my training around my work and sleep and have been training regularly for just under two years now so my body is quite used to it. My training doesn’t affect my sleep too much, if anything I may be sleeping a little too much now! I always make sure I get a minimum of eight hours sleep every night to allow my body to rest and on rest days I will usually go get a relaxing massage and lay on the sofa resting.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Chloe Gear

Q: How big is the Auroras now? How many are women?

A: The size of the Auroras depends on the campaign that we are preparing for, currently the Auroras is just a Premier team with half of the team consisting of women.

Q: In terms of funding, do you think that there is an equal treatment between the Men’s Team and the Women’s Team?

A: Sadly, in Australia, Dragon Boat Racing receives little funding, however most funding that is available is called an “athlete grant,’ which is open to any sport/age/gender, et cetera. At the end of the day the lucky recipient comes down to the quality of the application and the decision of the judging panel.

Q: Given the number of women in your team, is this a good number in your opinion? Should there be more?

A: As previously mentioned the size of the Auroras team depends on what campaign we are training for and this year half of the team consists of women. This year we have very strong women in our boat. I’m excited to see what they will achieve when we go out on the water.

Q: What do you think drives women to keep on with being at the elite level (National Team) of dragon boat?

A: In my personal opinion and experience I think it is the deep connection that women are able to create with each other that keeps driving us to be part of the National Team. Being an Aurora is being part of a family. We all support each other and want to see one another succeed. It’s very hard to just let that go when all the racing has come to an end so we keep coming back for more! A bit like a family reunion.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Chloe Gear

Q: Can you share to us one thing that makes being with the Auroras so rewarding to you?

A: The most rewarding part of being an Aurora is not only the opportunities we get presented with but also getting to be part of such a supportive family. Not only have I been able to travel the world but I’ve been able to travel with some of my closest friends beside me and make lifelong friendships. Our success on the water stems from how we support and care for each other off the water and I’ve been incredibly blessed to have met some amazing people from around Australia.

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

A: The athlete whom I admire most is Australian Paralympic swimmer, Sam Bramham. I have been following Sam’s journey for the last few years now and have read his autobiography of his climb to success. He attended his first Olympic games in Athens, 2004 age 14, setting a new world record in his heat, only to blow his chances in the Final. Sam learnt the hard way that going into a race without rest and a complacent attitude distracts you from your race plan. However rather than letting this defeat him he learnt from his mistakes and has gone on to win gold in several other Olympics and will compete this year in Rio as one of Australia’s first Paralympic Tri-athletes. I find his passion and resilience inspiring.

As for our featured athlete, injury was not a hindrance to her dream of becoming a world champion. While this is coming from a passionate, budding athlete, it very much shows of a young woman’s strength, determination and resilience—such a beautiful and powerful attribute that we all paddlers must appreciate, and, yes, emulate.

In paddling, no matter how new or old the paddler or the team is, the passion for the sport must be kept alive; and just like paddling, one must dig deep with soul and might and in synchrony. If we’re able to possess these essential paddling tools, then shouldn’t it be also easy for us to be synchronised, in thought and in passion, in working together to provide equal opportunities for the women in our sport?

Headshots by Bing Ren

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Dragon Boat World Athlete: Road to World Championships. What are the sacrifices?

This Q&A was with Dragon Boat World Athlete Kiyoshi Morishita, National Athlete – Dragon Boat Team Canada.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Kiyoshi Morishita


NAME: Kiyoshi Morishita
BIRTHPLACE: Guelph, Canada
AGE: 22yo
POSITION: Paddler, Captain of the Waterloo Vikings
PADDLING SIDE: Right or Left
HEIGHT: 183cm
WEIGHT: 95kg
STATUS: Single

IDBF World Dragon Boat Racing Championships, GoldU24 Mixed, 200m, 500m, 1000m, 2000m, 2015
IDBF World Dragon Boat Racing Championships, GoldU24 Open, 200m, 500m, 1000m, 2000m, 2015
Pan Am Club Crew Championships, GoldPremier Open, 200m, 500m, 2000m, 2015
Canadian Dragon Boat Championships, BronzeUniversity Mixed, 2015
Canadian Dragon Boat Championships, GoldU24 Open, 2013
Canadian Dragon Boat Championships, SilverU24 Mixed, 2013
Canadian Dragon Boat Championships, SilverUniversity Mixed, 2013

Our first featured Dragon Boat World Athlete, Kiyoshi Morishita, was in his freshman year in the university when he was first introduced to dragon boat by a friend of his. He has been paddling for four years now and was part of the University of Waterloo Dragon Boat Team and then later on with the Waterloo Vikings, where he eventually became the club’s Captain.

“Over that time, we have transitioned from an Under 24 team to a Premier level team, making it to the “A Final” at the Toronto International Dragon Boat Race Festival in 2015. A triumph that is first ever in club history.”, Kiyoshi shared.

Before Kiyoshi became a full-time dragon boat paddler, he played a lot of ice hockey. Aside from his athletic skills, on ice and in water, he’s also fascinated with the sciences. This coming September, he will soon start with his Graduate Studies in Functional Polymer Chemistry at the University of Tokyo.

Let us get to know more about Kiyoshi.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Kiyoshi Morishita

Q: Tell us a briefly about the selection process in the National Team? How long did it take you to qualify in the Canadian National Team?

A: The selection process began in the summer before Worlds. There were regional camps in September and February with fitness testing, erg testing, and paddling evaluation. There was a central final selection camp in May with fitness testing, erg testing, OC1 time trials and a lot of dragon boat paddling.

Q:Was there a time when you did not make it to the cut?

A: After the February camp, I was the 31st ranked male paddler. I worked hard to improve my fitness and trained a lot on the paddle ergs and in the paddle pool at Afterburn Fitness.

Q: What made you decide to be in the forefront and join the National Team?

A: I wanted to prove to myself that I had the determination and drive to make the team. Having supportive teammates going through the same tryout process helped a lot. I’m very glad I decided to try out, as representing my country on the world stage, with the best dragon boaters from across Canada is an experience I’ll forever cherish.

Q: As a seasoned paddler, you are aware that there is a profound motivational climate in this sport, how do you benefit from this as an athlete and as a person?

A: 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. Through this sport I’ve grown much stronger as an athlete and developed leadership skills as an experienced paddler and captain of the Waterloo team.

Q: How long do you prepare in competing for the World Championships? Which major race are you preparing for next?

A: My preparation for trying out for the National team began a year before the competition. At the height of this preparation, I was training 10 times per week and following a strict diet. Immediately prior to the World Championships, the national team came together for 6 days of training and team bonding. I’m preparing most for the University Cup at the 2016 Toronto International Dragon Boat Race Festival. The New College New Dragons have won the cup in 9 of the past 10 years and winning it in 2013 was one of my greatest dragon boat accomplishments.

Q: In three words, what does Dragon Boat mean to you?

A: Honour, focus, fun.

Q: Any personal ritual before you get in the boat? Do you pray before the games?

A: I always take a few minutes to myself to go over the race plan. I visualize the race and how I’ll feel at each stage. I try to foresee the pain I’ll be enduring and tell myself that I can push through it. I never pray before races, but we always have a pre-race talk led by the coaches or captains.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Kiyoshi Morishita

Q: Serious question: What do you find so satisfying about paddling water? (HAHA)

A: That sound of paddles punching through the spray in the recovery phase.

Q: On Diet: How do you manage your pre and post training nutrition? Is it your own research or is it the one imposed by your coach?

A: Balanced meals and lots of water. In preparation for fitness testing for the national team, I went on a caloric deficit to lose excess weight. I make sure to eat enough before competitions to ensure that I’m feeling at the top of my game. My diet has always been self-imposed, based on my own research.

Q: The Gift of Life Dragon Boat Team wants to know how do they transition from a recreational team to a competitive one. What piece of advice would you give them to improve and climb up the divisions and win medals?

A: The main difference between a recreational team and a competitive team is how they approach training in the off season. The more time you spend on dragon boat specific training in the off season, the easier it will be to rise in the medal ranks. Teams should also focus on developing leaders who can teach and inspire less experienced teammates. Develop an environment where everyone encourages and supports each other and finally, keep things fun!

Q: Being in the elite level of this competitive sport, in your opinion, what does it require from the athletes? What should they invest in terms of the physical, social, and mental aspects? What are the sacrifices?

A: It requires a commitment to individual and especially team training. Missing paddlers during on-water practices hurts the entire team. This includes paddlers who are injured or who are not mentally ready to commit to the training. Elite paddlers will be forced to sacrifice time spent with their outside social circle, although dragon boat creates an entirely new social atmosphere. You might not have much free time. However, training at an elite level can be combined with a full school or work load with good time management.

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

A: Darren Helm of the Detroit Red Wings. He’s not an all-star player, but he’s a fast skater and consistently works hard, making him valuable to his team on defense and on the penalty kill. He has scored big goals in the playoffs for the Red Wings. He even scored 6 playoff goals before his first regular season goal!

Dragon Boat World Athlete Kiyoshi Morishita
Photos by Ricky Tjandra. Ricky is also a Dragon Boat World Athlete and is one of the pioneers in bringing the sport in the Waterloo region of Canada. He is a former President of the University of Waterloo Dragon Boat Team (UWDBC) and has been coaching the team since.

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