Three young local dragon boat paddlers have returned from France with medals and experiences of a lifetime.
Alistair Adamson, Sean Page and Jade Page were selected in the Australian Dragon Boat team, known as the Auroras, to compete in the International Dragon Boat Federation World Nations Championships 2017 in Divonne le Bains in France.
Alistair and Sean competed in the under 18 team and Jade in the under 16 team at the end of July. All three are students at St Clare’s High School in Taree.
Given Jade was the youngest female in the team she was given the important role of carrying Kenny Koala, one of the team’s mascots.
Jade said “it was so exciting having this role in the team. I also paddled in the Australian boat for the opening ceremony which was such an honour.”
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Over three days, races were held over 2km, 500m and 200m distances. For each distance Australia competed in the mixed, women’s and open categories. Sean Page, who had competed in Canada in 2015, stressed that “the competition was very strong. Our toughest competition came from Ukraine, Canada and Hungary. It was a very different range of competitors this year.”
Alistair and Sean’s open teams had amazing success. Alistair reported that “we received a silver in the 200m race and bronze in both the 2km and 500m races. Every race was so close and we worked hard to earn our place on the podium”.
Being Alistair’s first time in the Australian team, he enjoyed the team spirit and camaraderie.
We’re just so proud of what we have achieved, we all gave it absolutely everything we had and that’s an amazing feeling.
The mixed races for the under 18 team proved extremely difficult with the teams regularly placing just outside the medal contention in fourth place.
Jade Page has returned a very happy paddler. Being her first campaign and the youngest female in the team, she had to prove her ability from selection last year to the first race in France.
Jade was selected in the Australian B team for the women’s races, but this didn’t stop the girls from doing their best. Coaches were excited to see that on two occasions the Australian B team beat the A team to win the gold in both the 2km and 500m races. The times they achieved equalled third place in the Under 18 women’s races, which is an amazing achievement. In addition, Jade received silver for the 200m races.
On the last day, Jade was selected to race in the mixed 500m team which placed third against tough competition from Canada and Ukraine and Jade was thrilled by the experience.
Standing on the podium and singing the Australian National anthem is an experience that I will never forget.
Sean, Alistair and Jade all agree that the effort made by team coaches and managers was amazing and Sean noted that “this was a very long campaign.
“Having the camp in Maroochydore and then flying straight to France to compete was hard work. Our coaches and managers looked after us, kept us fit and healthy and ready to compete. They were always ready to offer support, first aid and advice. Our success is due to their incredible dedication to our sport – we couldn’t have done it without them.”
The team of supporters were also crucial. Parents Julie and Lawrie Adamson and Sue Calvin, travelled to France to see their children compete.
Julie mentioned that the venue was ideal.
“They were paddling on a beautiful lake that had snow peaked mountains in the distance. It was great to enjoy some summer weather for a while.”
Julie also added that the supporters from Australia outnumbered any other country.
“You could certainly hear the proud parents shouting from the shore as the Australian teams paddled their races. There were over 70 family members that travelled to support the kids, which is an amazing effort.”
For Sue Calvin, having two children compete was challenging.
“At one stage I was watching Sean’s medal presentation and then running to see Jade’s race. They all did so well, and we are extremely proud of their success.”
Julie is also president of the Manning River Dragon Boat Club and encourages kids and their parents to try the sport.
“We have a come and try day happening on 2 September from 9am. Please come and try this great sport. It is for all age groups and for people of all fitness levels. It is a very social and fun sport.”
When asked if they would try out for the Australian team that is to compete in Thailand in 2019, the trio all said “yes!”