Panama embraces first ever Chinese-style dragon boat race

Twenty-four teams, each of 12 competitors in categories of male, female and mixed, Sunday participated in the first ever Chinese-style dragon boat race in Panama.

(Soundbite) Fermin Tomas Chan,
President of the Chinese Cultural Center of Panama
“The Chinese Cultural Center of Panama has as one of its objectives the promotion and preservation of Chinese culture. The sport of dragon boat is typical in China, which however is completely unknown in Panama. With great pride we have organized this event. It is historic. This race of dragon boat is the first of its kind in Panama.”

The racers competed in a stretch of 200 meters in the Port of Veracruz, near the exit of the Panama Canal to the Pacific, in western Panama City.

(Soundbite) Reinaldo Mejia, Participant.
“Well, I had previously been involved in dugout canoe competition from ocean to ocean. But this is the first time that I participate in a dragon boat contest.”

The Chinese Lunar Calendar New Year has been widely known and celebrated in Panama since Chinese people first arrived and settled down in this Central American country 161 years ago. The dragon boat competition just added to the contents of Chinese culture enjoyed in Panama.

(Soundbite) Alberto Hernandez, Team Coach
“This is a great event for the Chinese community. It is good that we are practicing the game today in Panama and it becomes a new part of the culture.”

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