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Entering The Semi-Finals Of The 500m National Premier (Open) Is Such An Incredible Feeling!

Posted on 9 July 2018 by Loo Kian Peng

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The Singapore Dragon Boat Festival (SDBF) 2018 was held on 7 and 8 July at the Bedok Reservoir. This is the penultimate race of the local Dragon Boat racing calendar. The Catholic High Dragons was entered in the National Premier (Open) category, racing against traditional powerhouses like SPC (Singapore Paddle Club), the various expatriate teams: American Dragons Singapore, Austcham Paddle Club, Armada (Spanish), German Dragons, the various tertiary institutions and Community Sports Clubs (CSC). 

The Catholic High Dragons' recent experiences at the DBS Marina Regatta -- achieving a Personal Best time of 56 seconds in the 200m race -- has given the team added optimism and extra confidence, knowing that as long as we followed the coach's commands, focused and paddled as one, adrenaline at the races will be the secret potion to boost our results. 

And so, after rowing as a team for six months and 22 wet sessions later, here we are. Competiting against seasoned teams who have been paddling together for years. 

The atmosphere was buzzing. The weather was perfect. Mildly overcast skies. Gentle breeze all morning. All these contributed to ideal race conditions, giving all teams the perfect opportunity to excel! 

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The team was on site as early as 6am, securing prime location to set up the team's base. Everyone operated together, pitching the gazebo, setting up massage benches, stocking up on water and isotonic drinks, box full of bananas and water melons. It was like a weekend picnic at the park! 

All too soon, the race day commenced and as event 8 approached, the team gathered for their warm up routines and pre-race briefing. You could feel the whole team coming together with razor sharp focus on the race ahead. 

Before enter the marshalling areas, the team huddled and prayed for a good, safe and successful race showing. 

Assigned boat 2, the Catholic High Dragons started in outermost left lane. With the withdrawal of Defenders and NTU, Heat 4 was left with 3 teams. Our competitors were 2 formidable expat teams -- the British Dragons and Armada (Spanish). Undeterred, the Catholic High Dragons had only one mission in their sights, to finish the race in style and show everyone what we are capable of. 

As the race command "Are you ready... Attention..." and race horn sounded, all 3 teams charged forward. With a good and powerful start, the Catholic High Dragons matched the two expat teams stroke for stroke and were neck and neck. The inexperience of the team showed as they were soon overtaken and crossed the line a boat length behind. The time of 2.24.844 sent cheers of jubilation through the entire Catholic High Dragons team. Another personal best result! The target of 2.40 set by the coach was shattered by at least a mile! Coach Wai Hong was grinning ear to ear, but with the repechage coming up, he spent some time giving the team additional advise on how to approach the next race. 

Event 24, Repechage 2 for the Singapore National Premier Open. The Catholic High Dragons lined up against Kembangan Chai-Chee, Team Onestroke (Queenstown CSC), SIM and Punggol Coast CSC. Unlike the Heats, the Catholic High Dragons will form up against an all-local line up who have all been competing regularly for years. 

And they are off! Again assigned the outermost left lane, the Catholic High Dragons charged down the lane with another good and powerful start. All five boats were inseparable for most part of the race, and the supporters of the Catholic High team were treated to an exciting race. What a showing by the young Dragons! Kudos to the team for putting in such a fantastic performance and making all Catholic High proud. The time of 2.24.308 was even better than the heats! Another personal best record broken. 

The team may not have come in first, but they were still in contention for a 3rd race -- the semi-finals. Even coach was optimistic, giving the team strict instructions not to leave Bedok Reservoir. The BBQ celebration can wait. 

Cries of disbelief engulfed the Catholic High Dragons team when the line up for the Semis was announced. Semi-final 3. Lane 6. Unbelievable. Who would have thought this young team comprising paddlers who could be dads or grandfathers of a majority of the participants would be competing to enter a National Finals! 

After 2 hours, recharged and refocused, the Catholic High Dragons proudly stepped through the marshalling gate for their 3 race of the day. Defying the tiredness, aches and pains from the previous 2 races, the team proudly formed up to create history. The supporters stood in awe of the team and silently prayed for another miracle. But against the powerhouses like Austcham, the Americans and SPC.... a miracle of epic proportions would indeed be required to create an upset. 

By now, the gentle breezes have also awoken to the awesome atmosphere at the race. Strong winds made the afternoon races even more challenging. The Catholic High Dragons have clearly learnt from the previous events and were unfazed by the intense start. Another great start saw all teams tear down the lanes but the focus of SF 3 were firmly fixed on lanes 2, 4 and 5 --  Austcham Paddle Club, SPC and SAFRA Dragon Club. SPC emerged victorious in this semi finals with a time of 2.07.222. The Catholic High Dragons did admirably, crossing the line at 2.26.009, a shade slower than the previous two events. 

Despite being eliminated at the semi-finals, the Catholic High Dragons can hold their heads high. Noone gave this young elderly team any chance. Unfit and inexperienced just six months ago, the team has shaped up marvellously. The team has proved that with the right commitment and dedication, miracles can, and do, happen. This has been a great day at the races and the cammaraderie, commitment and Catholic High Spriti shone brightly at Bedok Reservoir. The team out performed expectations by a massive mile, emerging as heroes in their own right.

With the season coming to a close after this race, the team will take a short break to recharge and re-energise. This euphoria would propel the team to be even more motivated and train even harder to give an even better showing in the years ahead. 

"Go Catholic High Dragons! Stand tall and stand proud! We salute you! 

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Roll of honour for the 2018 Catholic High Dragons: 

Team Manager: Loo Kian Peng 

Coach:              Chin Wai Hong
Assisted by:      Kimberley Madella Chow

Team Captain:  Adrian Seah 
Vice Captain:    Perry Sim


Mark Chen   John Peh
Andrew Chng   Alexander Seah
Kok Sen Ho   Edwin Tan
Dennis Lee   Julian Tan
Richard Leong   Tan Shei Wah
Lim Teck Mia   Ronald Varghese
Alvin Lim   Daniel Wang
Lim Teng Sherng   David Wong
Lin Zi Chao   Gerald Yip
Kenny Liu   Mark Yuen 
Kelvyn Ong    





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