by Bill Puah (17S06B), Deborah Lee (17A01D) and Noor Adilah (17S06B)
After a gruelling round of heats, several teams from Raffles Canoeing qualified for the finals held at MacRitchie Reservoir in the Boys K4 1000m & 500m, as well as the Girls K2 1000m and K4 1000m and 500m events. Although the weather was gloomy, the atmosphere certainly wasn’t, as throngs of school supporters crowded on the banks of the reservoir, ready to cheer on their school teams to victory.
The Raffles Canoeists were anticipating strong competition; experienced peers from other schools (including ACSI, SAJC and HCJC) have been competing since secondary school, unlike most of the representatives from our school who have had little over a year’s worth of experience. Some Year 5s who competed in the heats had only 2 months of training before the competition, and in the words of the RJC Canoeing coach, Ms Cheryl Tay, “(for them to have the spirit) to be up against people who have been paddling for 6 years is admirable.”
Truth be told, the competition didn’t begin the moment their paddles touched the waters at the starting line, but rather, when intensive preparation for the season began. From persevering through exhausting land trainings to improve physical fitness to weathering intense water trainings of both long and short-distance paddling, every ounce of effort put in by the Raffles Canoeists was reflected in their 6.30am training sessions spent at MacRitchie Reservoir during the December holidays. It was a competition against themselves.
When asked what the source of his motivation was, Boys’ Captain Quek Seng Leong (16S03D) replied, “the thought that our teammates are waiting ashore to see us do our best — we just want to try our best to not disappoint.”
Equipped with these valuable elements of determination and support, the teams from Raffles Canoeing put up a brave fight against their seasoned counterparts. The K2 1000m Girls team eventually clinched a commendable 4th placing, a sweet resolution to the months of hard work that they had put in.
What was most notable about their finals was not the team’s desire to bring home a trophy, but rather the sense of solidarity displayed amongst each member of Raffles Canoeing. Seng Leong also mentioned, “Results don’t matter, only trying our best. Compared to a year ago, we have become better. While the results may not be exceptional,(we believe) future batches will improve, and it’ll only get better.” Similarly, Girls’ Captain Tan Yun Yee (16S06D) believes that “Results may be important, but they don’t show the many struggles and setbacks our team overcame, the memories made, and the special bonds we share with each other. Canoeing is more than just a CCA, we are a family – and I’m very proud of us all.”
To them, winning was not of utmost priority – the experience of learning from the journey and supporting each other as a team was. The fulfilment gleaned from today’s competitions is something that will stand as irreplaceable and invaluable for a long time. When asked if she had any words for the Raffles Canoeing Team, coach Ms Cheryl Tay firmly answered, “I’m very proud of them.”
Boys K4 1000m & K4 500m: Shehabuddin, Arif (16S06H); Goh Zhong Lin, Lennon (16S07B); Yeo, Jun Ren Jerry Jay (16S03H); Liu, Jia Rui (16S06D)
Girls K2 1000m: Chua Pei Fen, Athena (16S06O); Tan Sze Rui, Megan (16S03J)
Girls K4 1000m: Quah Dingxin, Nadine (16S07D); Mak Ka Yean, Alicia (17S07A); Tan Yun Yee (16S06D); Tan Li Ling, Andrea Athanasia (16S03O)
Girls K4 500m: Quah Dingxin, Nadine (16S07D); Chua Pei Fen, Athena (16S06O); Tan Sze Rui, Megan (16S03J); Tan Li Ling, Andrea Athanasia (16S03O)