Team members from across the region – from Wainuiomata and Hutt Valley, to Mana, from Kapiti to Miramar – have competed every weekend for the past month. A winter of gym and onwater training has paid off this past weekend …
Wellington’s golden steps to Florence
By Bette Cosgrove
First, the Wellington dragon boat team of breast cancer survivors, CanSurvive, added to three gold-medal wins at the North Island Regional Dragon Boat Regatta in Auckland (mid-March).
Then this past weekend they clinched the coveted 500-metre Gold Medal Breast Cancer Survive title at the national championships of the NZ Dragon Boat Association at Lake Hood in Ashburton.
‘We are going from strength to strength this season,’ says team Chairwoman Iona Elwood- Smith. ‘This win was just another one of our goals achieved, as we prepare for the International Breast Cancer world event to be held in Florence, Italy in July.’
Winners in a tight finish
The highly-successful Wellington team led by Lower Hutt Coach Jacob de Feijter hit the line in an extremely tight finish ahead of their sister teams from Christchurch – Abreast of Life and Tauranga – Boobops, and Busting with Life from Auckland, winning the Breast Cancer Survivor National Shield.
Cansurvive logged the fastest time on the water, ahead of all the Open Women’s teams, over 2 kilometres in the Auckland regionals.
Coach Jacob de Feijter noted how proud he was that this Wellington team, with an average age of 60, can perform just as strongly as their much younger paddling competitors.
‘These golden girls continue to prove to young dragon boaters that you can be highly competitive and feisty no matter what your age,’ he said.
Highly competitive racing
CanSurvive followed – up with silver medals in both the Breast Cancer Survivor Division 200m and 2-kilometre events.
The fierce competition between all New Zealand breast cancer survivor teams encourages them all to step up their training goals each year, and to continue to paddle through the winter months to improve strength and fitness.
This year’s Nationals was exciting racing, and a perfect build-up for the bid to race at the International Breast Cancer Paddlers Commission event in Florence, where 120 teams from around the world will come together to paddle, said Iona Elwood-Smith.
Survivor dragon boat teams across the country encourage new paddlers to join the sport as part of a positive rehabilitation following breast cancer treatment.