Gabby Kalaw

Vancouver Island athletes are proving to be among the elite in yet another sport.

Eight paddlers from local team, Gorging Dragons, have just arrived in Kunming, China as part of Canada’s national team. They will be competing in the 13th World Nations Dragon Boat Championship on Oct 18th – 22nd.

All were selected as part of a rigorous Canada-wide search, involving hundreds of competitors, and have been training with their national teammates from across the country at various locations for the past year.

“Our club is excited to be represented by so many high-calibre athletes,” said Gabby Kalaw, Vice President of VI Paddling, home club for the Gorging Dragons team. “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.”

The World Nations Dragon Boat Championships are held every second year. Since dragon boating is not an Olympic event, this represents the pinnacle of competition in the sport and Canada’s paddlers are athletes are Olympic-calibre.

Canada has an excellent track record at this event. In Hungary two years ago, Canada dominated with the largest medal haul. Competition is expected to be especially fierce this time. China is the originator of the sport of dragon boating, and the depth of talent in its pro-am paddling community is enormous.

Canada will be competing in four events – 200m, 500m, 1000m and 2000m races.

Representing Vancouver Island:

From Victoria: Tom Arnold, Matthew Michealis, Michael Weirmeier

From Langford: Joanne Cowan

From Saanich: Ron Stubbington (steersperson)

From Cowichan Valley: Patti Cross

From Port McNeill:  Shari Woodside

From Nanaimo: Jody Berry

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BACKGROUND

The Gorging Dragons formed the first dragon boat team in Victoria in 2005-06. Team members come from all over Vancouver Island and compete at the highest levels of Dragon Boat.

VI Paddling Club was founded in 2011 and is home to 13 Dragon Boat teams that range from elite competitive to novice recreational. Based out of Selkirk Gorge in Victoria, VI Paddling runs competitive and recreational dragon boat programs out of Victoria, with a training location in Comox.

High-performance teams at VI Paddling draw paddlers from throughout the Island and further afield. The club’s mission: to provide coaching, guidance, and support to nurture and develop paddlers at all levels of recreational and competitive paddle sports on Vancouver Island.

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