As the popular saying goes: "We did our best but it wasn't good enough".
Indonesia and China had beaten us in the grand finals of the 500m Standard Open event today.
During our first race, all eyes were on the Philippines and Indonesia, the two strongest teams among the 6 teams who belong in the 2nd heat.
Known for its strength in the sprints, the Army soldiers paddled ahead of Indonesia up to the 300m mark. Gradually, the gap was narrowed down inch by inch until in the last 100m during which the hulky Indonesians glided their way to victory, at least one second ahead of the Army.
It was almost the same scenario when we raced with China for the semi-finals. It was a neck-to-neck race down to the finish line. The Chinese team outraced us 0.7seconds but we qualified for the grand finals for logging one of the fastest recorded time in the race.
During the grand finals, there were 6 teams who vied for the championship and the bragging rights as the best Dragon Boat Team in the race. Yes, there were six teams in that heat (including the PDBF 'Elite Team') but all the attention was focused on the top contenders: Indonesia, China and the Philippine Army.
When the sound of the horn reverberated around Nam Van Lake, the heart-stopping action began with the Philippine Army in the lead.
Halfway down the finish line, I didn't want to lose sight of the three strongest teams as they fought to death to take the lead.
They were just a few feet from each other. I couldn't distinguish who came in first from my position. It was indeed a close fight.
When I went to see the slow motion replay on the giant screen, it was crystal clear: we came a few feet behind China and Indonesia which finished with 1:53.56s and 1:53.39s respectively.
We were able to repeat our best time in the 500m event during the Bohol race: 1:54.63s.
CLOSE FIGHT. It was a close fight between Champion teams China (left), Indonesia (2nd from left) and the Philippine Army (green jersey) during the grand finals of the 500m Standard Open event.
I wouldn't offer any alibis. We were beaten by the national squads of Dragon Boat powerhouses in Asia.
A rising power in Dragon Boat sport, Indonesia took the championship in 2012 with 1:53.60 secs. This team also lorded the 500m Standard Open Event during the DBS Marina race last month in Singapore.
Meanwhile, Nanhai-Jiujiang Dragon Boat Team is in fact the national team of China. It has emerged as champion ten times since 2001 and it is still holding the fastest time of 1:51.74secs that was recorded in 2009.
It was indeed an honor to compete with the best teams which gave us the rare opportunity to assess our own strengths and weaknesses.
Yes, our team is indeed a force to reckon with in the sprints (200m-300m). How I wish that there was a 200m sprint because the Army will surely show who "The Flash" is.
As a Club Team, the Army has proven that it can be in the same league with the best Dragon Boat teams in Asia.
The other teams were surprised to see a rock star in the person of Jayson, our drummer. Who wouldn't want to enjoy the night with the Army?