by Noor Adilah (17S06B)
While the National School Games Canoeing Championships held at Macritchie Reservoir may be a yearly fixture for most schools, this year’s competitions held a special significance to RI’s own Canoeing team — it would be their last.
Raffles Canoeing is no more. First announced early last year, 2017 marks the beginning of the new Dragonboating CCA – and the end of Canoeing. With this change comes a sense of loss, as the canoeing and kayaking sports have a long and storied history in RI, having produced notable alumni such as the current coach, Ms Cheryl Tay (more affectionately known by the team as “Muddy”).
This atmosphere of finality might push most to adopt a defeatist mindset. Not for our Canoeists. The last lap of their CCA inspired an even stronger sense of determination from the team — a determination to end off with a bang.
And end off with a bang they did.
The boys’ team qualified for two races on the 20th of April, fighting hard to make it past the qualifying rounds and showing much potential in the heats. For the first event, the 1000m K4 (4-person Kayak) race, the canoeists pushed hard to overtake SJC in a heated match, placing 5th. The boys, still exhausted from their previous race, pushed even harder for their second match, the 500m race. Even qualifying for this race was a difficult endeavour, so despite their 6th placing, the boys finished with dignity and pride, placing 6th in the overall A division.
The girls placed 4th overall in the A girls division, coming ahead of strong teams from SAJC and CJC. The K4 girls competed in 2 events on the 19th of April — the 500m and the 1000m races. In the 500m race, the girls led comfortably in the first few seconds, but ACJC pulled ahead after a slight mishap the RI canoeists experienced before the halfway point. They paddled furiously for a hard-fought 2nd place — something of an accomplishment given their competitors’ experience in the field.
Later on, in the 1000m race, the girls trailed back in the first few seconds, but gained a burst of speed towards the end. They were visibly upset at what they thought was a 4th position — but what they would later find out was a much-deserved 3rd place. The consistent performance from the girls was a cause for celebration — placing in the top three for all qualifying events is, according to the Canoeists, extremely difficult. What once seemed unachievable, had been made possible through months of hard work.
The next day, the K2 girls would go on to win another 3rd in the K2 500m race, making it 3 races worth of top-3 placings, later bringing them to 4th position overall. The girls are “proud of how all [their] hard work paid off”.
For the Canoeists, the past few months of preparation did not just build up to the few minutes of the races, but lasting friendships with their CCA mates. While all good things must come to an end, they enjoyed the little infinities they found in Canoeing — their friendships, a learned and interminable strength of will, and a passion for paddling.
K4 girls 500m – 2nd position
K4 girls 1000m – 3rd position
K4 boys 1000m – 5th position
K4 boys 500m – 6th position
K2 girls 500m – 3rd position
RI placed 4th overall in the Girls A Division Championships and 6th overall in the Boys A Division Championships