PADS Adaptive Dragonboat Racing Team off to Hong Kong to compete in regular categories
For the members of the Philippine Accessible Disability Services, Inc. (PADS) Adaptive Dragonboat Racing Team, being part of the group has given them a new lease in life.
This was actually the main goal of PADS, according to team manager JP Maunes during a sendoff program for the team held at the Quest Hotel-Conference Center yesterday morning. Maunes said the formation of the team was aimed at restoring dignity of people with disabilities, giving them a sense of pride, and showing that they have a place in the society.
And as the team leaves for Hong Kong today for the 2018 CCB (Asia) Hong Kong International Dragonboat Races from June 22 to 24, its members have another chance to prove what they are made of.
Aside from defending its title in the International Paradragon Championships, which it won last year, the team will now compete in regular categories against international dragonboat teams manned by normal athletes. These teams will be coming from the US, the UK, Germany, Taiwan, Europe, Australia, among others.
“I told them we will do more, [we will] exceed our limits. We are taking another challenge in the regular category. We will give a good fight,” said head coach Christian Ian Sy. “We are prepared. We will give 200 percent of focus and determination during the race.”
After having started to create awareness that people with disabilities can do competitive sports through dragonboat, Maunes said they wanted to spread the word not only here in the Philippines but to the rest of the world as well. And what better way to do it than at one of the biggest international dragon boat races, which will gather about 5,000 paddlers manning about 100 teams coming from all over the world.
For the paradragon competition, teams are required to have 40 percent of disabled members. PADS is 90 percent manned by differently abled athletes.
PADS will have a total of 5 teams and 47 paddlers. Aside from the paradragon, they will be competing in the open standard, open mix standard, open small boat and mixed small boat, all regular categories.
Team captain Arnold Balais said his team has sacrificed for this by showing up in the training religiously such as waking up so early in the morning because their call time is 4:30 a.m. and commuting to Lapu-Lapu. And some of them come as far as southern Cebu cities of Naga and Talisay.
“If waking up early is hard for a normal person, what more for us. By waking up early to attend training, we are already champions. It’s just a bonus if we win. There is nothing to it but to work hard and train hard and someday the awards will come and it would be sweet since we really worked hard for it,” said Balais.
As Maunes said, “sports is a very powerful equalizer,” and they hope that they will be able to empower other persons with disabilities through the sport of dragonboat as their motto “our combined disabilities is our greatest strength,” implies.
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