WE WON the 2013 Musi Triboatton!!! I still can’t believe that we came in first place, but I have the medal and the over sized cheque to prove it. In fact, after a week at the Musi Triboatton, I now have enough medals to compete against Mr T. It was touch and go though and luck played a big part in our victory.
On the last day of the competition there was still everything to play for. In the previous four days of the Musi Triboatton, England had picked up one second place and three third place medals. Funnily enough, this put us in first place on the tables, but only just. Whoever won the races on the final day of the Musi Triboatton could come in first place overall.
Three 250 meter sprint races were planned on the Friday. There was the main event – the dragon boat race – alongside the two man kayak and the six man rafting. Our best chance of gold was the two man kayak race. Our weakest race was the rafting, while we would be facing two of the strongest teams in the competition in the knock out phase of the dragon boat race. Everyone thought it would be a close run thing and there was a big crowd waiting on the result.
The first race of the day was the rafting and I was not optimistic about our chances. We had failed to get past the knock out stage for the rafting during the previous two days of the Musi Triboatton and I didn’t see any reason why our luck would change.
England came in a close second place in the first round and surprised everyone by snatching gold in the final. Then a mini disaster struck. As a result of delays, the judges decided that they would be cancelling the kayak race. Our best chance of gold had just been taken away from us; everything would depend on the dragon boat race.
We rowed out strongly against the current towards the start line. The mood onboard the boat was tense, but excited. The previous day we had come third in the final of the dragon boat race and we would be racing against the first and second place teams in this knock out stage. We went through the usual warm up routines stretching our muscles before surging forwards in a burst of energy for a few dozen meters. We continued upriver past the startline then slowly turned the boat around to get into our starting positions.
There were supposed to be four boats out on the water at this point, but one of the boats had yet to leave the banks of the river. We waited for five minutes and then swung the boat round once more against the rivers current to do another warm up lap. The boat still had not left the banks of the river when we returned to the start line. A crackle of the loudspeakers announced that all of the boats would need to return back to land.
As I paddled back to the shore, I honestly thought that the oppossing team was playing some kind of game. I wasn’t the only person thinking this way. There were 35 pretty angry rowers heading to land who wanted to know just what was going on. When we finally got an answer, it was a good one; the boat had sunk.
The judges decided that the sinking of one of the dragon boats meant that the race would be called off. The two man kayak race was back and within thirty minutes, Team England had picked up another gold, putting us in overall first place. All that I have left to do is officially announce my retirement as an international athlete. It’s the end of a short, but highly successful week long career.