The final team of 22 paddlers on the Irish International Women’s Dragon Boat Team who hail from Dragon Boat clubs all over Ireland are packing their bags and readying themselves for the European Dragon Boat Federation’s European Championships in Rome July 27th-31st 2016, with their sights then set on the World Championships in China in 2017.
Carlow’s Dragon Boat Club has strong representation in the final numbers with Anita Comerford, Edel Jackson, Elaine Rowe, Evelyn Cronly, Fiona Burke, Fiona Farrell, Fionnuala Hunter, Jane Tynan, Julie Doyle, Margaret Doyle, Margaret Kehoe, Mary Foley, Sandra Kehoe, Sarah Alcock, Valerie McDonagh and Veronica Gordon (all Carlow, and the majority of the Irish team) all heading to Rome at the end of the month.
Following an incredible 12 months training which has included an intensive training camp in Spain, arduous weekends on the river – paddling over 30kms per day under strenuous and simulated conditions in addition to daily strength and fitness training, this team incredible women are now in the final stages of their preparation.
This weekend saw them partake in their last ‘on water’ training session before Rome and was the ideal opportunity to launch the team in their kit, funded in full through fundraising and sponsorship activities.
What lies before them is a head to head battle against the experienced national squads from Great Britain, Germany, Czech Republic and Italy.
Competing in three categories 200m, 500m and the gruelling 2,000m, each team will be looking to propel their boat at speeds of 4 meters per second, or quicker which is no mean feat. In Dragon Boating physical strength, extreme fitness, technical supremacy and mental endurance is the name of the game.
Exceptional strength is needed to carry the combined weight of our 22 woman crew, drum, steering oar and a boat weighing 250kg. All the while battling the elements, currents and the wake of other boats. The dedicated squad is made up of ex provincial rugby players, marathon runners, karate champions, endurance athletes, competitive rowers and dedicated sportswomen from all backgrounds with one thing in common – the will to win.
The Irish women’s coach is Carlow man, Mick Doyle – the World Championship gold medallist has over 24 years’ experience in the sport and has raced competitively for Great Britain.
Through his work with the Irish Dragon Boating Association (IDBA) and his attendance at a number of Dragon Boating regatta’s being held around Ireland, Mick said that he noticed a number of ‘highly athletic, competitive and committed paddlers’. Since July 2015, in conjunction with the IDBA, Mick has been running gruelling training and selection camps. He said he could not believe ‘the drive, the competitiveness and mental strength that these incredible women were displaying during these camps’.