PjH’s inaugural corporate dragon boat race a resounding success

  • Metro News
  • Thursday, 17 Oct 2019

PUTRAJAYA Holdings’ inaugural corporate dragon boat race drew to a close with much success, opening the path to bigger races in the coming years.

Organised and hosted by Putrajaya Holdings Sdn Bhd (PjH), the master developer of Putrajaya, the Putrajaya Oxygenation Boat Race 2019 at Putrajaya Water Sports Complex attracted more than 900 participants.

The event consisted of five categories – Open which was the main event, Mixed, Women, Interbank and Intervarsity. A total of 37 companies and 85 teams took part.

Its organising chairman Mhd Zaini Mohd Mukhtar said it was good to see the range of participants, from various industries such as banks and airlines.

“The most interesting race was the Interbank race which saw Standard Chartered and Maybank go head to head towards the finishing line. I believe Standard Chartered won by half a dragon’s head.

“More importantly was the positive feedback from the team managers. They were very happy to take part as the training brought out the best in their staff, fostered team spirit and comradeship. The competing companies also sat next to each other during the event, which showed a healthy competition.

“We want to get more corporate teams to compete according to the specific industry next year. As exciting as the Interbank race was, we want to have races among airlines, insurance and telecommunication companies. Many of these companies also advocate work-life balance and healthy lifestyle.

“An area that we can expand on is international participation. We can craft special races for that category. We are also looking at races for corporations in Putrajaya and outside Putrajaya, ” he said.

Zaini said they would look for ways to provide training and develop more teams for the coming years.

“Dragon boat racing is fairly new to many teams in Malaysia. Many did not have prior exposure as training and its facilities are expensive. I have spoken to a few companies to help sponsor the long boats, so when the logistics are covered, the cost is lower, and we can have more training.

“I encourage the companies to use the facilities available for their in-house team-building activities. From there, the company can spot the talents and select the best paddlers to represent the company. With the best paddlers and more training, we are sure to have tougher and more exciting races next year, ” he said.

Putrajaya Oxygenation Boat Race 2019 advisor Aminah Baba said they were proud the race was able to entice 15 women teams, some of whom were from RHB Bank, Multimedia University and UiTM Shah Alam.

“We intend to make the Women’s event one of the main races next year. We are proud to be able to encourage women to participate in this challenging sport, ” she said.

In view of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, PjH invited the Pink Challengers, an all-women dragon boat racing team comprising breast cancer survivors, to compete in the women’s category.

Putrajaya Corporation (PjC) president Datuk Dr Aminuddin Hassim said the administrative capital had what it takes to make a name for water sports in the world stage.

“We have one of the most beautiful man-made lakes, so we want to sell that feature.

“We have had a series of water sports events in the past months, such as the Putrajaya Water Festival which included dragon boat races for the community, the Putrajaya Oxygenation Boat Race 2019 and IWWF Waterski World Championships.

“We have the facilities, expertise and experience to organise water sports events. We are very confident about organising bigger events in the future, ” he said.

Pink Challengers team manager Margaret Gabriel said their participation was also to spread awareness about breast cancer and the importance of early detection.

“The strenuous, repetitive upper body movement of dragon boating helps in the recovery from breast cancer and lymphoedema, where lymph nodes had been removed.

“Pink Challengers, formed in 2005, is one of the activities of Breast Cancer Welfare Association Malaysia which not only enables the women to have a smooth recovery but also promotes a healthy active lifestyle.

“We are happy to be invited for the event although we are not a company and appreciate PjH’s effort in supporting our cause, ” she said.

AirAsia Group people and culture manager Yvonne Lady Diana John Brian Anthony said their teams’ “believe the unbelievable” attitude was key to their winning performance.

“With two teams formed just three days before the race and only three rounds of training, we outdid ourselves.

“Most of us are ultramarathon runners and trained to push until we cross the finishing line no matter what pain we feel. I guess that gave us the advantage. We did not have a good start and were left behind in the first 150m but we pushed on and managed to win in the Mixed category, ” she said.

“The race taught us that we must not be intimidated by others and put our trust in our steerer, drummer and fellow rowers, whom each represent different parts of an organisation. Only when everyone is in sync will the boat move forward and so will the company, ” she said, adding that their win proved that trust was more important than experience and skill.

Standard Chartered Malaysia sports, social and recreational club president Peh Mui Sim said they were happy to be champion in the Interbank category and first runner-up in the Open race.

“The crowd in the grandstand were loudly cheering the teams during the Interbank race when we were neck and neck with another team, ” she recalled.

“We fully support such events because it creates networking opportunities and encourages people to socialise with their industry peers outside of the confines of their offices.

“Internally, the sport has also created opportunities for people from different departments in the bank to train and interact with each other. It has reinforced the value of teamwork because in dragon boating, each team member is only as strong as the weakest paddler in the boat. Everyone has to pull their own weight or the boat won’t move.

“Everyone has to paddle in unison in order to move the boat forward, just like how each and every role in the bank is important and everyone needs to work together in order to move the bank forward, ” she said.

Mass Rapid Transit Corporation Sdn Bhd (MRT) sports club president Ean Yaacob said this sport picked up quite a following among MRT Corp employees.

“We managed to double the number of teams this year.

“The participants learned how to work together as a team to achieve their goal. We look forward to future races, ” he added.

On the incident which resulted in their boat capsizing during one of the heats in the Mixed category, Ean said it was a good lesson to them and other participants to ensure that they were balanced in their seating positions.

“Thankfully everyone was wearing life jackets, as per the safety requirement, so they stayed afloat until they were rescued, ” he said.

PjH corporate communications head Mohd Hafiz Abdul Ghani thanked everyone involved especially the participating companies, race officials, staff and volunteers for all their effort and assistance for making the event a success.

“It was an overwhelming turnout. It was a good outing for many who came with their family and friends to watch the race as well as to cheer for the teams, ” he said.

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