As expected, the Philippine Canoe Kayak Federation (PCKF) immediately launched their ‘praise releases’ after winning 5 golds in the so-called ICF Dragonboat World Championships in Gainesville, USA. These souped-up press releases were rolled out in many major dailies and aired on TV, in a clear effort to make up for their disastrous showing in the Asian Games where they scored exactly ZERO medals. One wonders how a team that couldn’t score a single medal in a smaller regional competition can suddenly come out champions in a bigger global stage, a so-called ‘world championship’ competition at that.
Perhaps the investigative juices of the writers should have kicked in, enough to ask the provoking questions. Did the medalists in the Asiad join this so-called global competition or not? Or did they mysteriously all drop dead? Perhaps the PCKF sent in only their second team in the Asiad, keeping their best paddlers for this bigger, more prestigious tourney. Maybe the PCKF paddlers miraculously became much bigger and stronger in a span of a month. Is the Asian Games a credible competition? Or is the ICF Dragonboat World Championship the more credible one? How is it possible that you go from having zero medals in a smaller regional competition to being a dominant CHAMPION in a global tourney?
Here are some facts:
1. The ICF is not the world governing body in dragonboating. The globally-recognized International Federation (IF) for dragonboating is the International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF). The top guns in dragonboating are with the IDBF. Which explains why the medalist countries in the Asiad did not compete in ICF’s so-called World Championships.
2. The ICF only ‘has a small Dragon Boat programme for those of its Member Canoe Federations with an interest in Dragon Boat Sport’. Google ‘Dragon Boat’ and you will read this there. (Please read: Racing [under Dragon Boat]) It was only quite recently that the ICF developed an interest in dragon boating. Previously, in 2008, ICF’s President wrote a letter to the IDBF President stating that “dragonboat is not a canoeing discipline and the ICF is not interested to develop it.”
3. The ICF event in Gainesville, USA had only 13 participating countries, not the ‘top 16 dragonboating countries in the world’ as advertised in the PCKF press releases. For that matter, all 3 Asian countries participating – Philippines, Japan, Armenia – were non-medalists in the Asian Games dragon boat events.
After the Asian Games, PCKF apologists came out with so many excuses; from a false start to the use of non-standard boats, accusing the organizers of not informing them of the type of boats to be used, while other teams had 14 days to practice with the same. The PCKF leadership, in an effort to hide their shortfalls, made insinuations that the events were not played fairly, putting the Indonesian organizers in a bad light. PCKF President Jonnie Go further claimed that the boats used in the Asian Games were not sanctioned by the ICF. They further stressed that the boats used favored taller paddlers. Their excuses simply borders on the incredible. If the PCKF sincerely believe that they were unfairly treated, they should just STOP WHINING AND MAN UP. SEND A LETTER COMPLAINT TO THE INDONESIAN HOSTS. But they had better make sure they have proof of their serious allegations. Here’s proof that their claim about the boats not being sanctioned by the ICF cannot hold water.
There’s more. PCKF got funding from the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) as well as its sponsor, Go for Gold, to join this so-called World Championship. We have a report that the team members were housed in different Filipino homes in Gainesville. They also received so many donations from the well-meaning Filipino community there who supported the athletes. It appears they were claiming there was very little support given to them for this trip. If true, that’s a lot of ‘savings’ right there. My source in Atlanta is hoping they return the money that was not spent there. We hope that there will be a proper investigation on this issue.
The PCKF’s massive press campaign is clearly an effort to vindicate themselves from the ignominy in Indonesia. Unfortunately, their ‘praise releases’ are riddled with lies and half-truths. Their claim to being the the world dragonboat champions are nothing but a hollow boast.
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