Putuo makes big dragon boat race splash

Over 50 teams from both home and abroad competed in Shanghai's annual dragon boat race along Suzhou Creek in Putuo District on June 9 and 10.
Shen Xiaoming / Ti Gong

Dragon boats race on the Suzhou Creek.

Over 50 teams from both home and abroad competed in Shanghai’s annual dragon boat race along Suzhou Creek in Putuo District on June 9 and 10.

A total of 944 professional and amateur athletes from the United States, Germany, Switzerland and France, competed with the top dragon boat racers from the city and across China.

They competed, in the 200-meter and 500m long sections of the creek in Putuo, for the 2018 PHICOMM Cup China Dragon Boat Open (Putuo Shanghai) and the 15th Shanghai International Suzhou Creek Dragon Boat Invitation Tournament.

The team from Dali Town, of Foshan City in south Guangdong Province, scooped Group A’s top prize in the Putuo leg of the China dragon boat open championship on June 10. The teams from the Shanghai Qianwei Sports Association, Putuo Police Station, Caoyang Vocational School and Shanghai Maritime University won prizes in various group competitions.

A highlight of this year’s event saw German football club Borussia Dortmund compete with other teams at the invitational tournament. Players also held an exhibition on the river bank to showcase the history and culture of their club and German football games.

Dortmund was invited to participate after visiting Putuo’s football school, a major training center for Chinese football players, said Zhang Jun, Party secretary of the Putuo district sports bureau. The club has opened its Shanghai office to develop along with China’s prosperous sports market.

“Dragon boat racing is a sport involving Chinese traditional culture, and our team is delighted to take part in the game for the first time,” said Benjamin Wahl, president of the China region of the club. He said dragon boat and football have many similarities.

The German club plans to take part in a warm-up game in China and Wahl said they may even arrange a traditional dragon boat race for the players as part of their training.

Organizers invited foreign companies and organizations, in Shanghai and Putuo, to participate. Teams from sports retailer Decathlon and Emlyon Business School competed in the open and invitational races.

Shen Xiaoming / Ti Gong

Dragon boats race on the Suzhou Creek.

Chinese explorers to Antarctica and crew members with the country’s renowned icebreaker Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, took part in the dragon boat race this year.

Zhang Xude, the pilot of Xuelong, served as a key member of the Antarctica Orientation Dragon Boat team. Zhang said he realized the dragon boat spirits, which involve cooperation and determination, are essential for them to overcome numerous challenges during the Antarctica exploration.

“For instance, the Xuelong icebreaker often sways dramatically when it crosses the southern westerlies,” Zhang said. “The dragon boat race experience can help us build stronger physique and willpower to overcome such difficulties.”

The Suzhou Creek dragon boat race was launched in 2004 to highlight the results of a clean-up campaign.

It has become an important fixture in Putuo as it attempts to showcase its commitment to the environment and rapid urban development.

Putuo has been dedicated to improving Suzhou Creek’s water quality since the 1980s and intends to develop the area into an ecological zone and an ideal place for living, working and innovation. The water quality of the Suzhou Creek has greatly improved after “river chiefs” were appointed to take personal responsibility of water quality.

The organizing committee of the dragon boat race has made a micro movie themed on the event to showcase Putuo’s economic development and urban construction achievements.

The movie featuring the clear water of Suzhou Creek has won a number of awards during the city’s various film festivals.

“We have long heard of the Suzhou Creek of Shanghai, but the dragon boat race offers us the opportunity to closely experience it,” said a participant from the US Chevrolet team.

Shen Xiaoming / Ti Gong

Dragon boats race on the Suzhou Creek.

Apart from the race, an exhibition on China’s traditional Dragon Boat Festival culture was held in Mengqing Park along the creek to offer a cultural feast to participants from both home and abroad.

This year’s exhibition included several traditional folk games, such as touhu (arrow throwing), archery and sand painting. The competition marks the Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on June 18 this year.

These events aim to promote traditional Chinese culture, as well as the city’s haipai, or unique East-meet-West Shanghai-style history of the city.

A photo exhibition reviewing Putuo’s urban constructions, social and economic development as people’s life improvement over the four decades of Reform and Opening Up also attracted many viewers during the race.

Among the exhibitions, Dortmund football club and Emlyon Business School were invited to set up their stalls to display German and French history as well as their football and corporate cultures.

“We hope more international events related to sports and culture, science and technology, ecological environment as well as the economy and trade will be held around the annual dragon boat race,” said Zhang.

The dragon boat race is one of a series of sports events hosted by Putuo to boast its profound sports culture. The district also hosts professional sports games such as the 10-kilometer elite running race and the elite football international invitation game.

Shen Xiaoming / Ti Gong

Dragon boats race on the Suzhou Creek.

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