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Paddling In Doha

TWO weeks ago, we took part in a dragonboat festival: Qatar's First Dragonboat Festival. Our training had started two weeks before that, and I felt fabulous for many reasons. One, I was able to enjoy and take part in sporting activities despite my ear and hearing issues. Two, it's a water sport. It's a team, water sport in the pristine waters of the Qatari coastline. Thirdly, I've been in an international dragonboat festival in 2011 and therefore, to be part of a second event in a different country is an exciting prospect. 

First week training was excellent. I was made the front pacer along with our team captain. Our job was to set the pace for our team of 20 paddlers. Paddling came naturally to me although when spelling it out on a paper, it always came out as peddling. I think people just went with it because they didn't want to embarrass the writer. 

In the second week, we were trained harder by a new coach. The wind and waves doubled the intensity of our training. It wasn't easy as the first session but it gave us a rough idea of what it might be like during the competition the following week. The weather forecast did predict a higher wind velocity for that day. 

Week 2 after-training selfie

You'd think it's the paddling arm that may hurt after a session. With the right techniques, the arm shouldn't hurt as much as the butt. I was butt-hurting on one-side so bad, and I have a naturally well-padded butt. I couldn't begin to imagine what it must have been like for the butt-skinny paddlers. One paddler later told me that she had been paddling before but had stopped for a while due to a bad buttburn. As in, she had an open injury to one side of her butt. 

Our full team although one on opposite site is cut by half!

Competition day was fantastic. Grand Hyatt Doha opened up their private beach and facilities for the competition. We were set up in teams in tents on the lawn, overlooking the blue beach. It was like a holiday with a bit of competitive sport in the picture. We raced two races before the finals in which we came second in the Gold category. The first race was tough. Against three other teams in choppy waters, we struggled and came second. Having more confidence and experience, the second race was still a struggle but we were completely focused and came first which earned us a place in the Gold category. Teams were placed into four categories of four teams each, based on the time from the two races. The Gold category is second after the Platinum. 

Our team is paddling to the starting point before the race began.

Physically, I was feeling distracted and fatigued on the competition day. A few days earlier, I had experienced vertigo attacks. A sort of sudden imbalance due to my hearing loss. It was pretty bad and came as a shock. I don't know why or what had triggered it but I was very disturbed, disappointed and desperate at the same time. I cancelled attendance to my daily bootcamp sessions, rested and got on medication, positively believing that I'd be well by competition day. Thankfully, I woke up on that Friday morning without feeling like the walls were dancing around me. Sure, I wasn't in my best form but very happy that I was stable. It was a day worth fighting for. 



  1. Butt-hurting... Is that a fact. Well, maybe I should give it a shot myself... and call in sick.


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