LJUBLJANA, June 8 (Xinhua) — A traditional dragon boat race that took place on the Ljubljanica river in the center of Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana on Saturday attracted hundreds of people who enjoyed the competition and traditional Chinese food on a sunny day.

The race, which was organized by the Confucius Institute at the University of Ljubljana, was opened by Chinese Ambassador to Slovenia Wang Shunqing who said that the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival is over 2,000 years old and has been listed among the intangible cultural heritage of China by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

“This festival is celebrated worldwide wherever there are Chinese people. I am very happy to see that more and more people (from Slovenia) are participating in the dragon boat race to celebrate this festival with us,” Wang told Xinhua on the sidelines of the event.

“I am a student of Chinese and I watched the dragon boat race last year. This year I am a part of a group of students who decided to compete to get a chance to row in a dragon boat. However, it is more difficult than it seems,” said Zala, a student of Ljubljana University.

One group did not complete the 200-meter race because it toppled over before reaching the finish line.

“The water was very cold. Unfortunately, I also drank a lot of it after falling in,” said Ray, a student from Zagreb in Croatia, who was part of a team that toppled over. He was soaking wet but still had a big smile on his face.

Representatives from Confucius Institutes and classrooms in Croatia, Italy and the Czech Republic were also invited to participate in the race.

All contestants wore security vests as it is not uncommon for a boat to topple over, according to Jakob Marusic from the Kayak Association of Slovenia who helped the organizers. He said that the fastest boats are the ones that manage to get the best synchronization of rowing.

The winner of the race was the Confucius Classroom from Gymnasium Celje-Center secondary school while Qi Lab. Institute got the second prize and representatives of Huawei came in third out of a total of 13 teams. Each boat was decorated with a dragon’s head and tail while each team had up to 10 contestants.

All attendants could also learn to write their names in Chinese letters and buy traditional Chinese ornaments.

The Confucius Institute has been organizing the annual dragon boat race in Slovenia for over 20 years. The boats used in the race were all made in China.