AFTER winning four gold medals in the 14th IDBF World Dragonboat Racing Championship in Thailand, the Philippine Accessible Disability Service Inc. (Pads) Dragonboat Adaptive Racing Team will continue its partnership with Southwestern University (SWU-Phinma) for the development of dragonboat in Cebu.

Pads returned to Cebu on Wednesday night, Aug. 28, 2019, as world champions after their conquest in Pattaya, Thailand. The team had a courtesy call at SWU-Phinma, which provided the strength and conditioning program for them.

Pads founder and executive director John Paul Maunes said he still can’t believe what happened.

“It hasn’t sunk in. The team was created to be just a recreation program. All we wanted was to involve PWDs in sports,” said an emotional Maunes.

After the successful debut in the world championship, the team will rest for a while before going back to the drawing board. Pads’ next target will be the Club Crew Championship in France next year.

But before that, they will be doing something for Cebu’s dragonboat scene in partnership with SWU-Phinma.

“What we’ve seen in Thailand was there were paddlers in different age groups. The plan now is not just the Club Crew Championships, but Pads will also reach out to students in different schools. We’re looking to visit different schools for the program,” said Dr. Lohindren Adorable of SWU-Phinma.

Adorable went with the team in Thailand as the team’s strength and conditioning head coach.

Team captain Arnold Balais sports science was a difference-maker for the team.

“At first we did not understand why they always get our weight and the other programs we went through. But along the way, we understood the purpose that they were planning something for us. It paid off in our race in Thailand,” he said.

Balais added the stint in Thailand was a learning experience and they will carry the things they’ve learned into the next competitions.

The Philippine Paradragon Elite team coach Ma. Ailene Padrones, who has been in dragonboat scene for two decades, said the achievements of Pads gave glory to the country being the first champion in the PWD category race.

It was the first time that the world championship included a category for PWD paddlers.

Pads, which suited up as representative for the Philippine Paradragon Elite team, bagged gold medals in 200-meter small boat PD-1 Open, 200m small boat PD-2 Open, 500m small boat PD-1 Open and in 500 small boat PD-2 Open.

The PD-1 division was for all PWD crew while the PD-2 division was composed PWD and abled paddlers.

“We will work hand in hand with coach Padrones. We will provide the support science while she does the training. We will create what kind of athlete she needs for the future competitions,” said Adorable.

“The landmark that Pads have created was not just for sports, but you have also empowered the PWDs,” said SWU-Phinma’s VP for student life Braggy Braganza.

“The world championship won’t be possible without the support of SWU-Phinma. We really thank them for letting us use their facilities,” said Maunes.