WINNERS ARE GRINNERS: Mildura Dragonboat Club team members Kate Redman, Bernadette Gardner and Martine John proudly show off their gold and silver medals from last week’s Australian Masters Games. Photo: PAUL MENSCH

MILDURA Dragonboat Club members never expected to win medals at the Australian Masters Games.

The local crew came away with gold and silver at last week’s biennial games in Tasmania.

The Mildura paddlers fought off competition from around Australia to take out the 50s Senior B Mixed 10s event, also claiming a podium finish in the 40s Mixed 10s, all over 250 metres.

Dragonboating has existed as a sport for hundreds of years. While it may not seem like an event to compete in, it was actually the second most popular sport at the 2017 Masters Games behind basketball.

Team member Kate Redman said a different training approach in the lead-up to the Masters Games paid dividends.

“When we last competed at the Masters Games in Adelaide two years ago we weren’t even competitive,” she said.

“We prepared differently this time around. We got more coaching from Dragonboating Victoria and Karen Davies, our president, really pushed us at training  so our fitness was at a higher level. Our technique really improved too.

“It was about six months ago we decided we were going to enter the Games. We started training in May but we ramped it up from the start of August.

“Teams from all over Australia competed, and some teams pooled their clubs together to have their best competitors on the same team.

“We had 11 competitors competing in all events, although we were able to borrow a few paddlers from Tasmania so we could rest a bit more.”

Fellow team members Bernadette Gardner and Martine John were also surprised at their success.

“I’m not a sporty person, so I never thought I’d win a medal at a Masters Games,” Bernadette said.

“I think we helped put Mildura on the map,” Martine added. “On the flight back to Melbourne I overheard another Dragon Boating team looking at a map trying to find out where Mildura was!”

The trio paid special tribute to one of the club’s founding members ‘Tubby’ Ramsay. At 83, ‘Tubby’ won a swag of medals in swimming at the Games, before joining the Mildura Dragons to win two more medals.

“Dragonboating is a very inclusive sport, no matter your age, ability or fitness levels,” Kate said.

“We met some amazing people at the Games and struck up many friendships.”

Next up for the crew is the South Australian Masters Games at Murray Bridge in April.

For further information find the Mildura Dragonboat Club page on Facebook, or visit milduradragons.com.au.