Apr 27, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

The inaugural international Elite University Dragon Boat Championships were held last month in the city of Hangzhou in China’s Zhejiang province. Here’s a closer look at the event, which brought together student-athletes from many of the world’s most prestigious universities.

Competition Meets Cooperation

More than 50 students representing 15 teams participated in the first-ever Elite University Dragon Boat Championships held on Hangzhou’s Jinsha Lake and organized by Zhejiang University. Said Li Min, director of Zhejiang Office of International Relations in a university press release, “The Dragon Boat Championships are very good for us in terms of visibility.”

In addition to boosting the profile of the host university, the event is also a boon for global cooperation. “In terms of international relations, we can get to know each other better and communicate more through sport,” Min continued.

About Dragon Boat Racing

Dragon boat racing is a beloved Chinese tradition. Says the International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF), “The Dragon Boat is deeply embedded in China's 'Dragon' culture, with each Boat having an ornately carved dragon's head at the Bow and a tail in the Stern. The Hull is painted with the Dragon's scales. The paddles symbolically represent the claws...The races are a colorful spectacle, with at least two boats competing against each other over distances from 200 to 2000 meters and above. Not only are strength, endurance and skill important but teamwork and harmony of purpose.”

Over the years, dragon boat racing spread in popularity. Today, the sport boasts “nearly 50 million participants in China; over 300,000 in the UK and Europe, including Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Russia; 90,000 in Canada and the USA and many thousands in Australia and New Zealand and with the sport now spreading through the Caribbean, Africa and the Pacific Basin,” according to the IDBC.

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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