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Editions

Docklands paddlers off to world champs

01 Aug 2011

Docklands paddlers off to world champs Image

By Bethany Williams

Members of two Docklands dragon boat teams will compete at the International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) World Championships this month in Tampa Bay, Florida.

Some 16 members of the Melbourne Flames and two members of Dragon Masters will join 160 others from around the country on the Australian Dragon Boat Team.

The Melbourne Flames and Dragon Masters have been training in Docklands since 2006.

The coach of the Melbourne Flames, Serghei Cusca, will join members of his team as coach of the Australian dragon boat team.

Serghei is a former advisor to the Soviet Union canoeing team. He moved to Australia in 1997 and was introduced to dragon boating the following year and started coaching the Flames in 2005.

Karen Morris, 42, is one of the Flames who made it onto the Australian team.

Karen, who is originally from England, said she initially got involved with dragon boating because it was different, was competitive and was a way to meet different people.

“I decided to try out for the Australian team to learn more about the sport, to be more competitive and to try to reach the top level I can be at,” she said.

However, making it onto the team was not an easy process.

Karen said the Australian selection involved an initial fitness test, a written application and several camps, which tested fitness, performance and technique.

Most team members combine training with full-time work. After making it onto the team, members must also commit to a strict training schedule.

Mr Cusca said: “At this stage team members must complete a minimum of six training sessions per week, which include at least four paddling sessions on the water and two gym sessions.”

The team trains in basically all weather conditions. “We are probably going to race in 30 degree plus heat in Tampa, but I know in Canberra they are training in minus four,” Serghei said.

The championships will involve five days of competition, which includes 200-metre races, 500-metre races, 1000-metre races and 2000-metre races.

Members of the Australian team will compete in three categories, premiers (under 40), masters (40 plus) and grand masters (50 plus).

The Australian Dragon Boat Team left for the IDBF World Championships in Tampa on July 27 and 28 and competes in its last race on August 8.

If you’d like to get involved or would like to learn more about dragon boating in Docklands see http://www.melbourneflames.com.au or http://www.dragonmasters.com.au

Gordon Tribbick who, at 65 is the oldest member of the Australian team, will compete in the grand masters events.

Gordon said that he tried out for the Australian team because it was an opportunity to do something he would remember as a milestone in his sporting career.

In the lead up to the world championships Gordon said the training regime was “pretty intense”.

“We are all looking forward to the event but we’re also looking forward to a bit of a break when it’s all over,” he said.

As the team gears up for the championships thoughts turn to what they hope to achieve.

“I don’t like to talk about medals because I think if you talk about medals you put expectations into people’s minds. I know a lot of elite athletes say you don’t look for medals, you have to focus only on your best performance and the medals will follow,” Serghei said.

Gordon on the other hand was a little more specific. “Personally, I’d like a gold,” he said.

Karen agreed. “I want us to really paddle well as a team. Unless we paddle well as a team we’re not going to get any medals. I think we can do it,” she said.

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