Five local dragon boat racers can call themselves the best in the world after bringing home eight gold medals during the 2015 World Dragon Boat Racing Championships earlier this month.
Gorging Dragons paddlers Tom Arnold, Matthew Michaelis, Andree St. Denis, Darryl Draper and Patti Cross with the Vancouver Island Paddling Club helped lift Canada to the top during the world championships in Welland, Ontario from Aug. 19 to 23.
“It’s an amazing opportunity to go and represent Canada and compete with the Canadian national team against the rest of the world,” said Arnold, who brought home eight gold medals with the senior A open and mixed teams.
“To do that at home against some of the best paddlers in the world is pretty exciting.”
The 12th annual races were held at the Welland International Flatwater Centre with teams from Russia, Germany, the Czech Republic, the U.S., Australia, Italy, Japan and Sweden.
According to Arnold, once the team won the first 2,000-metre race, nothing could stop them.
“So to go out and dominate the way that we did and win the gold medal, that’s the moment you get over those first nerves and you see we have something really special here,” he said, adding the team was able to pull together quickly, despite having little practice time together.
Patti Cross competed in the senior B women’s and mixed divisions and brought home eight gold medals, fulfilling a lifelong dream.
“It’s really hard to actually find words to describe it,” Cross said. “It was very tough work but it was very satisfying being able to paddle with the strongest women in my age group in the country. It was very emotional in many ways to represent the country.”
The World Dragon Boat Racing Championships are held every two years.