** By Niamh Haskins
The Dublin Viking and Plurabelle Paddlers dragon boat clubs, based in Grand Canal Dock, were well represented on the International Women’s Dragon Boat Team who successfully brought home four silver medals from the EDBF European Championships last week.
The tournament, which entered its 13th year, saw over 17 nations compete in the over 40’s senior women’s category, which took place on the Havel River in Brandenburg, Germany from the 23rd to the 24th of August.
The competition proved an exceptional achievement by coach Mick Doyle and his squad of 22 as they placed second in the 500m, 200m, 1,000m and 2,000m distances.
Speaking to the Dublin Gazette, Lorraine Leonard from Booterstown, a paddler with the Dublin Vikings, who represented Ireland for the first time in Germany, said: “I’ve wanted this for so long now and have been training for about four years for it.
“It was so surreal and even though I was terrified, nervous and didn’t know where we stood I would do it again tomorrow if I got the chance.
“Once the first race was over I knew we would go far. It’s an amazing achievement all the hard work from training to being in the gym and all the sacrifices. They were all definitely worth it.
“I really wanted to win gold and was sick when we lost by 1.4 of a second in the 200m sprint. But, in reality its still brilliant especially to win four silver medals in all categories and set new record for an Irish team.”
The Dublin make up of the team which includes – Rosemary Phelan, Dympna Watson, Leonard, Ifty Finn, Ciara O’Donnell, Susan Rowe and Marian O’Dea, along with remaining team members from Carlow and Clare have been training since 2017 with both club and country. The final team’s selection to represent Ireland at the competition was made last April.
Leonard added, “We were training so long that I didn’t really think about it. I always thought we were going to win medals but the closer it got I was like well what if we don’t actually win any?
“We’re a very disciplined team and it was only when we were there that we actually saw it. That discipline really went a long way and it was definitely a testament to the medals we won.
“It’s coming on well and we definitely are a team to be feared. Who knows what’s going to come next?”