Henley Dragons in GB Team Win Medal Stash at Europeans

Members of Henley Dragons have returned home from the European Dragon Boat Championships in Prague with an impressive medal stash after competing for the GB team.

Members of the club trialled for places on the national squad back in March. Four of Henley’s women (Candy Connor-Wong, Heather Frost, Emma Corless and Nan King) and four men (Laurence Plant, Graham Edmunds, Dayne Matthews and Matt Hewson) won places as paddlers, with Jack Hawkes given a spot as drummer. Together they formed the biggest representation of any UK dragon boat club to the national side, as well as the fastest male and female paddlers on their respective sides.

After some quiet years for GB, the aim was to get the country back on the podium which they absolutely delivered. Racing in categories of men’s, women’s, and mixed over distances of 200m, 500m, 1000m, and 2km across the age categories and in both standard (20 paddlers) and small (10 paddlers) boats, the squad as a whole delivered 4 golds, 5 silvers and 14 bronze.

The small women’s and mixed boat crews, which both included Henley paddlers, medalled in every distance they raced, with some sensational photo finishes as dragon heads crossed the line within 100ths of a second of each other.

Dragon Boating is unfunded as a national sport, so the Henley paddlers have worked hard over recent months to fit training around their families and day jobs including teachers, a pharmacist and a psychologist.

For Heather Frost, it was a first – representing her country on an international stage. She said “It has been an incredible learning experience, both physically and emotionally. I have pushed through my own barriers and surpassed my own limits. I cannot wait to see where my Dragon Boat journey leads to next!”

“The team dug deep in a strong field,” added Laurence Plant, a Henley based physiotherapist. “It was a privilege to be a part of and we look forward to the world championships in Germany next year!”

All nine athletes started out paddling for their local club. If you’d like to give dragon boating a go – contact them at henleydragons@outlook.com





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