Many people think dragon boats a more of a festival than a sport, but for Leon Chan, it is part of his life. It has not only given him a sense of accomplishment, it has also helped him discover and understand that special link between father and son.
“My father has been a dragon boat coach for seven years,” says Leon. “He encouraged me and my brother and sister to take part. This helped me learn more about my dad’s duties as a coach and understand him more.”
Encouraged by the senior Chan, the three siblings first boarded the dragon boat two years ago, and the family has never been happier.
“We are closer than before,” Leon continues with a smile. “Now, we share our sadness and happiness with each other, and give spiritual support, which is something we never used to do. It is really amazing.”
But although racing has brought them closer together, the long hours of training and tight schedule means Leon can spend less time with family, especially when a competition is approaching. Finding a balance between trainings and family time is of crucial importance to Leon.
The Chairman Shield winner joined the United Fishery Dragon team five months ago. Before that, he spent about a year taking foundation courses. The modest champion attributes his achievement to his coaches, as well as his role models, nicknamed Cheong and Hing, whose passion for dragon boat racing has inspired him.
“They voluntarily train us, as a way to promote the sport to youngsters,” says Leon. “And they go all out for it. Even if we lose, they still show their support and encouragement to us.”
Leon says it feels more like a big family than a team, and that unity has paid off. “With a concerted effort, we won the U21 and U23 Aberdeen Championships and Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Races U23 championships. We were all overjoyed.”
As strategies are the key to successful racing, Leon listens closely to the guidance of his coaches. Even if he is exhausted, he still focuses on the trainings, and concentrates harder than ever. He knows that he’s got his work cut out for him if he wants to achieve his dreams.
“My ultimate goal is to enter the Hong Kong national team,” he says. “I know that I’m still a freshman in my team, and not as good as others, but I’ll keep working hard to strengthen my competitive ability.”