THEY only need to match, at least, the Asian bronze standard to make the grade to the Asian Games. But in a suprisingly, improbable performances, the Philippine Dragon Boat Team made more than the expected.

Both the men and women paddlers not just broke the Asian time standard but even surpassed the existing gold medal pole – not one but in all three events – in Asia during the team’s time trial yesterday morning at the Lamesa Dam and Eco Park in Quezon City.

“Awesome. I believed they just came here only last week after months training in salt water (Manila Bay), and yet their performance is quite impressive,” said Col. Jeff Tamayo, member of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) Executive Board and head of the Asiad Monitoring Group.

Officials of the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation (PDBF) headed by its president Marcia Cristobal immediately tranferred the team’s training to Lamesa Dam after reaching an agreement with the Asiad Screening Committee led by Joey Romasanta for the team to pass first the Asian bronze criteria to be included in the Asian Games delegation.

The bronze medal results in the 2008 Asian Championships held in Teluk Bahang Dam in Penang, Malaysia was agreed to be used as barometer.

And then history beacon.

Under searing mid-morning sunlight, the 20-aside women’s squad completed the 1,000meter course in an impressive 4:08.66, under 20 seconds better the standard criteria (4:28.00), while their counterpart better the (5:04.53) criteria with a time of 3:47.00.

Then, in the 200m (49.07) and 500m (2:06.85) sprint events, the gorgeous paddlers look more indestructible.

They checked in 46.85 seconds in 200m, breaking the gold-medal performance by China (47.63) and silver finished by Indonesia (48.49), while smashing the 500m time of Indoensia (2:06.25) and China (2:06.77) with a time of 1:58.38 or over two minutes better.

Not to be outdone are their brawn teammates, who easily broke the gold-silver time of Indonesia (42.15) and China (42.36) with a lightning speed of 41.88 in the 200m, while quite more impressive in the 500m with their 1:47.00 finished, breaking not just their old time (1.55.70) but the gold-silver feat of Indonesia (1:49.10) and China (1:49.79).

But some observers which included Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) commissioner Salvador Andrada, PSC Task Force member Manny Ibay and Asiad Screening Committee member Clarito Samson showed doubt in the outcome.

“Something is wrong somewhere. Kung bibilhin namin ang time na yan siguradong may gold na tayo sa Asiad. Those were statistical improbabilities. I can’t imagine how we can beat our counterparts by half a course. These are disturbing figures, it raises questions of probability,” said Samson
“It cannot  be two minutes better than them. It could be the timing device or the water level or even the the boat. Maraming tanong na dapat itanong at kailangan na masagot,” he added.

Samson added that the men’s team failed to break the SEA Games bronze medal mark of 3:38 in the 1,000m.

“It was done in the very same watershed of La mesa Dam,” he added.

For his part, Romasanta, also the RP Chief of Mission to Asiad, said he will not comment until he receive the report of the monitoring team.

“We’re awaiting the report of the monitoring committee, based on that report we’ll make a recommendation to the board, which will convene on Friday,” Romasanta said.

“I’m happy with their performance. I don’t know how they do it but I think ‘yung challenge na ibinigay sa kanila ang nagbigay sa kanila ng lakas ng loob do perform better than what we expected,” said national coach Nestor Ilagan.

‘Nakakalungkot lang dahil marami pa rin ang nagsasabi na improbable ang performance namin. Ayaw lang yata kaming pasamahin sa Asian Games eh!, “ he added.

Sports pyschologist Karen Trinidad of the Philippine Center for Sports Medicine (PCSM) echoed Ilagan’s statement saying “They are mentally and pysically prepared for this time trial”.

“I talked to them one by one first. Then in group discussion I told them to accept the time trial as a challenge and not adversity,” said Trinidad. Edwin Rollon

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