Marco Deligero | October 27, 2017
The Cebu Pink Paddlers, the first and only dragon boat team composed of breast cancer survivors, won their first two gold medals at the 2017 Taiwan Keelung International Dragon Boat Festival held last October 2 and 3 in Keelung City, Taiwan.
The team won the Breast Cancer Survivor (BCS) 500m race category with 5:09.140 time record. Their competitors, the Long Beach Pink Dragons (USA) finished with 5:26.740 while Dragon Abreast (Hong Kong) clocked in at 5:41.800, placing second and third, respectively.
On the second leg of the competition with 200m race to the finish, the Cebuano paddlers ended strong with 1 minute and 57.29 seconds, giving them their second gold victory.
“One thing good about this sport is that Dragon boating is a team [effort] sport. We help each other, we think of each other on the boat, we learn to fail and succeed together, we need to be synchronized in order to achieve our goal. Bugsay together like the mantra of RAFI (Ramon Aboitiz Foundation).”
–Georgia Solante, Cebu Pink Paddlers team captain
At one point, their boat nearly capsized but the team was quick to get back to the race and claim victory.
Solante hopes their recent success will encourage more organizations to support their team especially through financial assistance.
“We have been invited to race this October in Australia, as well as in Penang, Malaysia on the first week of December, but we have to turn both opportunities down for lack of funding,” she said. “I think, we have great future with dragon boating.”
The team continues to recruit new members and is currently composed of Solante, drummer Janice Fabroa-Kintanar, steerwoman Levi Avelides, and paddlers Mirasol Mislos Viñas, Mary Ann Sacristan-Bojos, Eleonor Avenido-Mercado, Aida Ibones-de los Reyes, Marichu Enriquez-Dumoran.
On the stroke side, Ma. Liberty Albizo-Rañoa, Rosalie Valentino-Cobre, Sarah Jane Apjag-Villegas, Eden Cabaguing-Paluca, Judith Piramide-Beltran, Nonieta O. Percy, Maribeth Dy. There are also new recruits namely, Flor Vicente-Mangapis, and Teofila Sagosoy Ladera.
At the end of the day, this is a victory for all breast cancer survivors and those recently diagnosed with cancer. It sends a strong message that no matter how strong the waves are, as long as we continue to celebrate and paddle in life, a gold medal finish is within reach.
“Teamwork, hard work, focus, determination, discipline, passion, love of the sport are some keys to achieving our goal and success. We did all our best because this is what we trained for.”
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