Vancouver Island dragon boaters are competing at the 13th Annual World Nations Dragon Boat Championship in Kunming, China.
Eight paddlers from the Gorging Dragons, a team out of Vancouver Island Paddling, were chosen to race on China’s Lake Dianchi, after a nationwide search involving hundreds of athletes. Tom Arnold, Matthew Michealis and Michael Weirmeier of Victoria, along with Joanne Cowan of Langford and Rob Stubbington of Saanich are in China now for the five-day event widely considered the “Olympics” of dragon boating.
Gabby Kalaw, vice-president of VI Paddling, is excited the club is being represented by this many high-calibre athletes. “The best part is that some of our athletes never imagined they’d be paddling for Canada when they first got into a dragon boat,” she said.
Patti Cross of the Cowichan Valley, Shari Woodside of Port McNeill and Jody Berry from Nanaimo are also in China, part of Canada’s nation team competing in the 200 metre, 500m, 1000m and 2000m races. While dragon boating is China’s sport, Canada has previously placed well at this event – in Hungary two years ago, Canada left with the highest medal count.
The World Nations Dragon Boat Championship runs through Oct. 23.