Being a visually impaired person and sitting in a canoe, while performing similar results as unblinded people, seems to be unbelievable at first hearing , but it is not that. Mihály Dombai is a perfect example for this, as he has been delivering well in a dragon boat for years. He does not only improve his fitness day by day, but he also wins races. Körte (pear), the labrador from Baráthegyi Guide Dog School, waits for him at the finish line after such races in order to share their daily life.
Dragon boating is recommended everyone who can swim, likes water, nature and teamwork. It requires stamina, movement coordination and sense of rhytm, but first of all the paddler must feel the pulse of the boat. Anyone can start dragon boating, regardless of age, gender or pre-training,
it is easy to learn and to get racing experiences while it is a real team sport. Probably a visually impaired person is more difficult to have a go at dragon boating, but he would experience its „benefits” quickly, as Mihály Dombai did.
„However, it seems to be strange at first glance, but honestly, I think that dragon boating fits to visually impaired people as during the training or racing they must feel only the pulsation of the boat. Sight is not necessary for this activity, they have to paddle simultaneously, from instinct. It is
no accident that many unblind contestants paddle with their eyes closed in order to avoid perturbing of bad technique, or moving of the others, or any other disturbing circumstance. He focuses only on himself, the movement of the boat, the rhytm and the senses” – said Mihály Dombai who has been an active dragon boat paddler for years.
Since the beginning, he has been paddling with István Novák, who remembers the beginnings with a smile. He said that he didn’t understand „what he will do with a blind guy in the boat”? Despite that, they gave each other a chance and they didn’t regret it. They had reached the third place in their very first race and they have won more races since then.
„The life of István is like a soap opera and I am the good friend, Jose Luis in it. However, we can get into a fight within few seconds due to anything, but we can also make peace quickly, and we work as a team in the boat, our results speak for themselves.” – said Mihály Dombai about the moments of the beginnings which are raising a smile now.
Joint trainings both in the gym and outside are important for the good fitness. Additionally, paddling together is a first class sport for community building.
„The races are impulsive and give experience and some adrenaline rush in a good way. In most of the races I sit in the front of the boat and I make the rhytm, the running, I try to motivate my team members, and if necessary, I call them, when I feel that they weaken, meaning „the power runs lower in the boat „ – said Mihály who sat even alone in a boat several times but together with his teammate, assisting him in the navigation.
While Misi is paddling, Körte is having rest at home. The labrador from Baráthegyi Guide Dog School cannot wait the training or race to be finished, as he knows that there will be a time for the playing after that. They seem to adore each other. „Körte is full of enthusiasm and sincere obedience, and I also adore him. I cannot imagine my life without him „– he said.