Kota Kinabalu: China and Brunei are among the international competitors out of a total of 57 teams taking part in the 23rd Sabah Dragon Boat Race at Likas Bay today (Sunday), starting at 8am.
Penang's Forwards Sports Club, which is dedicated to running the dragon boat race, is the only other Peninsular Malaysian team represented.
"Dragon boat race is part of traditional Chinese culture and so we decided to come to Sabah mainly for cultural reason besides building friendship and enhancing relations," said Zhang Jin Rong, President of Nan-Aaou Streets Federation of returned LongGang which sent the 30-strong Nan-Aou team from Shenzhen, China.
"We are essentially amateurs, not professionals, and so if you ask me whether we had won important races in the world, the answer is no. But we have competed in places like Shanghai and Hong Kong," Zhang said.
Datuk Chau Tet On, President of Sabah Chinese Cultural Association which founded the Sabah Dragon Boat Race before Sabah Tourism Board took over its running, said he was grateful to China for "kindly" sending one of only two foreign teams to the meet.
"It gives us a lot of encouragement," Chau noted.
"An event like this can do a lot for Sabah, for sports and can promote tourism to foreign countries. The more foreign participation, the more money they spend in Sabah," he said.
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