Golden start for PH paddlers

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Members of the Philippine dragonboat team receive their award after ruling the 10-seater senior mixed 500-meter event of the 2018 ICF World Dragon Boat Championships Thursday at the Lake Lanier Olympic Park in Gainesville, Georgia. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

GAINESVILLE, United States — The Philippines quickly snatched two gold medals in record-setting fashion in the opener of the prestigious 2018 ICF World Dragon Boat Championships at the Lake Lanier Olympic Park here.

The national paddlers from the Philippine Canoe Kayak Dragonboat Federation (PCKDF) ruled the 10-seater senior mixed 500-meter event on Thursday (Friday in Manila), defeating race favorites Hungary and host United States by a significant margin.

With drummer Patricia Bustamante and steerer Maribeth Caranto leading the way, the Filipinos clocked two minutes, 7.5 seconds to improve on their bronze-medal finish in the same event during the 2016 world championships in Moscow, Russia.

Arriving second were the Hungarians, who timed 2:11.36 in a narrow finish to nip the Americans (2:11.86) for the silver medal in the biennial meet featuring the best 16 countries in the world of dragonboat racing.

“They really wanted to prove something out there and they never lost focus despite the strong opposition,’’ said PCKDF president Jonne Go.

The Filipinos struck their second gold medal just a few hours apart after dominating the 20-seater senior mixed 500-meter race again at the expense of Hungary and the Czech Republic.

They timed 1:52.58, impressively beating their previous race-winning clocking by three seconds two years ago in Moscow.

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