Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Torre trains Paragua for World Cup



Torre trains Paragua for World Chess Cup


SPORTS FOR ALL By Philip Ella Juico

(The Philippine Star)

Updated August 10, 2011


The recent success of the Cobra Philippine Dragon Boat team at the 10th International World Championships in Tampa Bay, Florida is another proof of a sport that has been without fanfare inching its way to world-class level. A non-Olympic sport which has never really been popular in the Philippines, dragon boat has all these years been in the shadows of Olympic sports which are recognized by the Olympic community.

The truth of the matter is that the dragon boat racing sport is not recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as a “stand alone” or separate sport. Philippine sports authorities have therefore placed it under the Philippine Canoe/Kayak Federation until the International Dragon Boat Federation, to which the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation belongs, is recognized by the IOC.

It is understandable that the dragon boat team that competed in Florida did not get, if reports are to be believed, the necessary support from the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and the Philippine Olympic Committee. Given the inadequacy of funds even for those sports that are recognized by our sports authorities (as of the last count, I think there are more than 40 National Sports Associations fighting for limited funds), it is not surprising there’s nothing earmarked for non-IOC recognized federations. But that should not stop our sports community from supporting a clearly world-class team which will compete in a world championship. The private sector led by Cobra Energy Drink therefore came into the picture to “invest” in a non-glamorous sport like dragon boat racing.

When I was PSC chairman from 1995 to 1998, I remember the dragon boat group, headed by Nestor Ilagan, dropping by my office to report the progress of their training for specific competitions. I was invited once to one of their cross training sessions. I paid them a visit at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium where they were all dancing to the beat of “Macarena”. Ilagan told me that the rationale for the dancing cross training was to build up the paddlers sense of timing. It is therefore clear that after years of single-minded dedication and effort, the dragon boat team has attained world-class status.

The dogged determination of the dragon boat leadership is not much different from the unceasing efforts of the work being done, almost singlehandedly, by Eugene Torre (who became Asia’s first Grandmaster or GM at the age of 22 in 1973) to get the Philippines to continually compete in high level chess competitions. According to www.tripatlas.com, Torre has had the distinction of competing in 19 chess Olympiads recording 86 wins, 11 draws and 39 losses in 236 games for a total score of 141.5 points, fourth overall in Olympiad history behind Lajos Portisch of Hungary (176.5/260 games ), Miguel Najdorf of Argentina (145/222 games and Svetozar Gligoric (142.5/223 games). Torre has appeared in the Chess Olympics for 20 consecutive times, equaling the record of Portisch.

More here.