MILAN — The Philippines will race in the second heat of the men’s 500 meters small boat event at 12: 00 noon (6 p.m. Manila time) seeking an outright final seat in the World Dragon Boat Championships at the Idroscalo water sports club.
Crowding the Filipinos are European kingpin Hungary, the big boys of Poland and host Italy and Sweden.
“Mabigat ang draw natin sa qualifying pero malaki naman ang chance kahit nandiyan ang Hungary kasi dalawa naman ang outright slots na available,” said head coach Len Escollante.
In the other half of the qualifying are the United States, Germany, Canada, Russia, Czech Republic and France, all represented with height and muscles that make Filipinos look like a long, long shot.
“Siguro nga tingin nila parang drummers lang kami lahat,” said one of the eight members of the women’s team.
Only two from each heat will advance to the Friday final of the 500 meter and a repechage will be conducted Friday morning to determine the last two qualifiers of the six-team finale.
“Personally, I have very high hopes for this team because they have trained well together,” said Escollante, who steered the team to two silver and one bronze medal in the 2012 Asian Beach Games in Haiyang, China two months ago.
The squad also won a gold medal in the Taiwan Invitational only two days after returning from Haiyang.
PH will likewise plunge into action in the afternoon for two more events — the mixed 20 crew for the big boat race of the 500 and the mixed team for the small boat also for the 500 meter distance.
In all, the Filipinos are entered in six events although they may yet compete in the long-distance race covering 2,000-meters.