The drummer at the front beats and screams while the paddlers work on their stroke to keep the boat going. In the middle of Stanley Bay, members of the Link dragon boat team push themselves hard as they prepare for the Stanley International Dragon Boat Championships, to be held at Tuen Ng Festival. Among them is Eric Law, a self-described fanatic of dragon boat. To him, paddling doesn’t just bring fun and joy, but also helps him become healthier both physically and mentally.
When Link put together its Dragon Boat Team for the first time in 2010, Eric joined the team right away, hoping for a good workout and the chance to get to know more colleagues from other departments. It was in the first training that he fell in love with the sport.
What draws Eric to the sport is the camaraderie - the feeling that everyone in the team are fighting for the same goal. “There’s no individualism in dragon boat,” he said. “It is about communicating, understanding and trusting your teammates. Teamwork is the most important.” In addition, dragon boat requires paddlers to be physically well-conditioned, as they need to keep pushing themselves for a few minutes while racing towards the finishing line.
Eric has gone through a body transformation. Just by looking at him now, it is hard to imagine the body shape that he was in – he weighted as much as 220 pounds at one point. From April of last year, through a healthier diet that includes eating less greasy food, and by slowing down his eating speed, drinking more water and resting more, Eric managed to shred 50 pounds in just over a year!
The motivation for Eric’s weight loss was from dragon boat. "I was the heaviest in the team. More weight on the boat means more resistance in the water, which ultimately affects the team’s performance.” So it was for the sake of the team and his own health that Eric’s fitness journey began. “I used to feel tired very easily between sets. But ever since I lost the weight, training became a lot easier, and I am also able to recover quicker after each set and be ready for the next one.”
Link Dragon Boat Team was disbanded in 2016, but that did not dim Eric's enthusiasm for the sport. He would later join other dragon boat teams, including one that represented Hong Kong in competitions held in South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan and other places – in total he participated in seven overseas races during that time. Through competing against dragon boat teams from other countries and regions, Eric also learned more about training and gained valuable competition experience.
This year, Link is once again putting together its own Dragon Boat Team for the competition, with most members being newcomers to the sport. As a senior member of the team, Eric is excited to share his experience. He has been reminding the team about the importance of warming up before the training and competitions, while also stressing the need for stretching afterwards to help relax the muscles and prevent injuries. During training, he has been vocal in encouraging other members to train harder, boosting morale and driving the team to win!
Eric believes the key to physical and mental wellbeing is to stay positive and cheerful. And his goal is to use his personal experience to help inspire new team members to become healthier and happier through the sport of dragon boat!
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