Belize’s modern day sports dynasty – Belize Bank Bulldogs Canoe Team
Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, defines a sports dynasty as a “team that dominates their sport or league for multiple seasons or years.” It also goes on to say that often these teams’ recognition in such a capacity is, more often than not, subjective and retrospective.
When sports enthusiasts speak of dynasties from an international standpoint, they usually connect the UCLA Bruins men’s college basketball team from 1964 to 1975; the Oakland Raiders of the 1970’s and 1980’s; the Boston Celtics during the period 1956 to 1986, who won 16 of 30 NBA championships; and the Chicago Bulls, who won 6 of 8 NBA championships during the period 1989-1998. Meanwhile, on the local scene, the first teams that come to mind when we speak of dynasties are the Kremandala Raiders basketball franchise, who won an unprecedented 7 of 8 semi-pro basketball championships during the period 1993-2000; and the Juventus football team from Orange, who won four consecutive semi-pro championships thru 1995 – 1999.
So, the question then is: Is the Belize Bank Bulldogs canoe team Belize’s modern day sports dynasty?
To answer this, we must first go into the numbers. The Belikin La Ruta Maya River Challenge canoe race started in 1998, and just last weekend completed its 17th such race. The Bulldogs, who feature 42-year-old Armin Lopez, Amado Cruz and Daniel Cruz, under the management of Jerry Martinez, started competing in 2003, and tasted their first success in 2005 when they won their first championship. They followed this up by winning again in 2006, and were on their way to three-peating in 2007, save for the upset pulled out by the CPBL team. They immediately rebounded in 2008, winning the race that year, as well as in 2009, and were once again on their way to three-peating, but, as the gods would have it, once again were denied by the Zip Rider team, who went on to win the race in 2010 and 2011, with the Bulldogs placing second both years. In 2012, refocused and determined, the Bulldogs team once again was triumphant, winning the 2012 race, as well as the 2013, and this past Monday culminated 10 years of chasing the three-peat feat with their big win over NICH.
As the elder, Armin Lopez contemplates retirement, this win on Monday concludes one of the more successful eras in modern day team sports in Belize, with the Bulldogs essentially winning 7 of 10 canoe championships since 2005, while placing second in the other three years. If this is not a clear demonstration of team dynasty, then what is?
(Ed. Note: The Belize Bank Bulldogs Canoe Team won this year’s Belikin La Ruta Maya River Challenge, which took off on Friday, March 7, at the Hawksworth Bridge in San Ignacio/Santa Elena, and culminated on Monday, March 10, at the Belcan Bridge in Belize City.)