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China, Indonesia take dragon boat golds

other Updated: Nov 18, 2010 12:59 IST
AP
drums

To the sound of drums and spirited battle cries, the Indonesian men and the Chinese women captured the first golds in dragon boat's debut at the Asia Games.

The Indonesians pulled out to win a full two seconds ahead of the team from Myanmar and cross the line at 3 minutes, 32.016 seconds. Myanmar was 3:34.542 and South Korea 3:37.254.

In the women's 1,000 meter straight race, China came out first with 4:03.706, followed by Indonesia with 4:14.590 and Thailand's 4:18.292.

Officials had been concerned about high winds and potentially choppy waters ahead of the race on the Zengcheng Dragon Boat Lake, but were met with mild conditions as the races began. Thai rowers complained of high winds on practice day yesterday.

The brightly colored boats took off to the beat of drummers to give the rowers their rhythm. One of the teams in the competition features a 13 year-old-boy on the drums.

The winning Indonesians said they were caught by surprise by the relatively chilly weather at the lake, and made a last-minute search for waterproof shoes in Guangzhou to replace their usual slippers because their feet were too cold.

They bought up 48 pairs at a local store, but said that was still not enough.

"It's very cold when we get out of the boat with our wet feet," said Indonesia's head coach, Muhammad Suryadi.

Suryadi's team was not a factor in the world championships, but did win the inaugural Asian Beach Games in Bali two years ago.

"They are amateurs, and only some of them participated in the Asian Beach Games," he said.

The boats carry 20 paddlers, one person to steer and one drummer.

Six gold medals will be handed out in dragon boat events, with 11 nations competing.

Other races will be held over 500 meters, and 250 meters at the venue which organizers constructed for the games at a cost of 50 million yuan (USD 7.5 million) in Guangzhou's largest wetland.

The Philippines, one of the teams expected to win a medal here, pulled out before the final after a dispute over times recorded in qualifying heats. The Philippines made the finals in all three events in the 2009 World Championships in Florida.

The dragon boat event was added to the Asian Games for Guangzhou, along with cricket, dance sport, roller sports and the chess-like board game of Weiqi.