In company of dragonboat fans

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 June, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 June, 1998, 12:00am
 

By day Urs Heggli supplies textiles to the garment industry. At the weekend he strips off his shirt and tie, his torso exposed to the sun while his body moves in rhythm to the steady beat of a drum.


Flanked by 21 other robust and muscular men, the 49-year-old regularly puts his stamina to the test - in a dragonboat.


The Swiss managing director of textile firm Freudenberg & Vilene, a German-Japanese joint venture based in Lai Chi Kok, started the sport as a hobby.


Now the company team has its own coach and a demanding exercise regime.


The team is scheduled to compete in the International Dragonboat race to be held during the last weekend of June in Sha Tin. More than 90 international teams have registered to compete.


Mr Heggli lives in Sai Kung with his wife and three children. He has lived in Hong Kong for 20 years.


What's on your mind? The business situation. It's very much on my mind.


On the sport side, however, whether we will beat everyone else (at the International Dragonboat competition).


For many years, we did this as a hobby.


A few years ago we got fit, but we were always being left behind.


So we then decided to step up our training.


For the first time two years ago, we managed to beat everybody - at least from other companies.


We became the company champions.


Last Saturday, we did quite well when we raced in Stanley, finishing second in the Chinese men's category. We were beaten by a few millimetres.


What kind of training do you do? In the beginning we would practice once a week on Saturdays. Now it's four times a week, twice in the water and two sessions of physical training.


We've established a little training centre in our office; we have rowing machines, that kind of stuff.


Why are you so motivated? We're all quite fanatical. We are really quite a cohesive team, trying to achieve something.


The company supports this because team spirit is important; there really is a very good team spirit.


Any female staff taking part? There's no women, they're not allowed.


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