Sunday, December 19, 2004

Local dragon boating team earns medal

By SHAILA DANI
Bucks County Courier Times

A national dragon boating team comprised of mostly Philadelphia-area athletes has won several medals at an international competition in Shanghai, China.
The U.S. National Dragon Boating Team competed against teams from China, the Philippines, Germany, England, Poland and many others at the 5th International Dragon Boat World Championships from Oct. 22-24.

The 2,000-year-old sport of dragon boat racing involves 20 paddlers rowing in unison — sometimes as fast as 100 strokes a minute — to race a 40-foot boat a short distance.

The U.S. premiere open team won the gold in the 1,000-meter event, making it world champs for that race. The senior (over 40 years old) men’s team won the silver in the 1,000-meter and the bronze in the 200-meter events. The men and women’s mixed senior team won the bronze in the 200-meter race.

“It was unbelievable,” said Montgomery County resident William Heffernan, a gold medalist and member of the Philadelphia Dragon Boat Association, which sent 45 members to the international competition.

The U.S. team included Holland residents Ken Wong and his daughter, Christina. Ken Wong, who is president of the Philadelphia group, said the team would hold tryouts next in the spring for spots on the 2005 U.S. team. The team has already qualified for the next international competition, which will be held in August in Berlin.

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