(Once again, as with my previous articles on the subject, this piece is not intended to malign our paddlers, but to expose the devious intentions of the PCKF leadership.)
Fresh from a dismal zero-medal performance in the Asian Games, the Philippine Canoe Kayak Federation (PCKF) dragon boat team flew to Georgia, USA to compete in the 2018 International Canoe Federation (ICF) Dragonboat World Championship. Questions were immediately raised as to why the team – whose best finish in the Asiad was a distant 5th – was allowed to even participate in a supposedly bigger global stage, despite its clear unsatisfactory results in the regional event.
The stint is an apparent effort to erase the ignominy of that sham-of-a-performance in the Asian Games. Having fooled the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) into believing that they were worth 6 golds in the Asiad, the PCKF hopes to regain their dignity with this competition in the USA. Gold medal results in this International Canoe Federation’s (ICF) World Championships would hopefully erase the hurt of the big budget PSC provided for this team.
Or so, they thought.
The PCKF may not realize it, but they have placed themselves in a no-win situation by insisting on competing for gold in the ICF world games. Think about this: the PCKF team was soundly beaten in the Asiad, not even winning a single medal. And then it wins golds in a so-called world championship? A win in the ICF World Championship will only validate what has long been whispered in the rumor mills: that the so-called ICF World Championships are nothing but fun games for ICF teams that have an interest in dragon boating. (Please read: Racing [under Dragon Boat]) Just take a look at the roster of participants. China, from where the proud dragonboat racing tradition comes from, isn’t even competing. So with many other Asian powerhouse teams such as Indonesia, Thailand, Korea, etc. Go check out their website at lanierdragonboat2018.com. There are exactly only 13 countries participating. For that matter, the US team will be represented by a group of locals from Gainesville, Georgia; a small, scenic city hosting the event. Does that really make it look like a true World Championship now? And the PCKF proudly sold this as a World Championship to the POC and the PSC. How much did the PSC cough up to bankroll this junket anyway?
What the PCKF has done is a blatant effort to vindicate itself after its Asian Games flop. However, instead of achieving that, it has focused the spotlight unduly on the ICF instead. Sure, expect the PCKF to win races here. But to the international dragon boat community, the PCKF’s selfish act has only raised more questions on the ICF’s so-called Dragon Boat ‘World Championships’. Can the victors here truly proudly claim that they are world champions? For the record, the International Canoe Federation (ICF) is NOT THE RECOGNIZED WORLD GOVERNING BODY FOR THE SPORT. If you google ‘Dragon Boat’ in the internet, Wikipedia will tell you that the International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) is the recognized world governing body for the sport. This exercise will also highlight the ICF’s subtle attempts to take away dragon boating from the world governing body, the IDBF.
Right before the Asian Games, PCKF boldly predicted that they would get 5-6 medals, with 2 sure wins. They returned home with exactly none. They were soundly beaten, even by an unified Korean team that had barely been able to practice together. This time, coach Len Escollante says: “I’m not in the habit of making bold predictions, but I’m confident that we can deliver.” Deliver what? More dubious golds? Not in the habit of making bold predictions? Ho-humm.
It doesn’t matter anymore, Len. Because should you win, you’ve only served to tarnish the image of the ICF’s so-called dragon boat world championship. People will finally see it for the big fun games it really is. And if you lose? That’s it, you simply lose.
We hope the POC and PSC will finally see through the lies and half-truths the PCKF has been selling. After tricking the PSC into funding 30-plus athletes and officials, promising 6 golds in the Asian Games and coming home empty-handed; here they are once again, going for a junket in the US to gain highly questionable gold medals. Such a waste of government resources.
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