Physios paddle ‘senior’ GB dragon boat to bronze medal win

Two physiotherapists from Devon helped a British team of ‘Grand Dragon’ paddlers, who are all over 50, to win bronze at this year’s European Dragonboat championships.

The GB dragonboat team. Photo: Richard Davies

Carol Davies and Sue Bath were competitors in the 13th European Dragon Boat Federation European Nations Championship, which took place in the town of Brandenburg an der Havel, in Germany this summer.

As well as taking home bronze medals, Mrs Bath also won a silver medal at the championships, after representing Britain in the mixed boat competition.
Mrs Davies told Frontline: ‘It was such a great atmosphere. Everyone, in and out of the boat, had worked so hard to be there and it was exhilarating to stand on the podium, representing GB, to receive our medals.

She added that their involvement with the sport was a good example of the principles promoted by CSP’s Love activity, Hate exercise?  campaign, as she has found dragon boat racing has helped her maintain her own health – as well as proving similar opportunities for others.

‘Dragon boating has enabled me to become fitter since knee problems prevented me from sports involving running, have fun, travel, meet new friends and enjoy being outdoors  - come rain or shine,’ she said.

‘And we have club members aged from teens to 70s as well as members of the Purple Warriors, which is a national dragon boat club comprising serving and retired members of HM Forces who have some form of disability or impairment as a result of their service.’

A strenuous training schedule

The medal-winning physios have both been active dragon boat racers for a number of years. Mrs Bath took up the sport in 2013 and went on to compete in the Senior A (over 40s) boat in the 2015 World Championships and the 2016 European Championships. While, Mrs Davies started competing two years ago, after joining the Exe-Calibre Dragon Boat Club in Exeter, Devon.
But an activity that initially began as a hobby progressed to them both taking part in the British National Training Scheme for the premier, senior A (40+), senior B (50+) and senior C (60+) dragon boat teams.

Physios and GB dragonboat team mates Sue Bath and Carol Davies. Photo: Anthony Peake

‘We attended the group training for the Senior B and C teams, known as the Grand Dragons,’ said Mrs Davies.
‘And full day training sessions were held monthly over the winter prior to time trials, which took place in March.’
Following this, the physios were selected for the final team and received guidance about their expected strength and fitness levels they needed to achieve, through exercise and gym work, before the championships were held.
In addition, they undertook specific training in a purpose built, single seat 01 boat, which is used for individual dragon boat training, performance monitoring and time trials.
Club training sessions typically involved four to six water based sessions per week, two to three gym sessions, and up to eight weekly classes that included core work, high intensity interval training and stretching.
‘The training aided technique analysis, injury prevention and management, teamwork and to some degree, safe training methods,’ Mrs Bath explained.

International competition in Thailand

Back home in Devon, Mrs Bath works as an musculoskeletal physiotherapy team lead at Honiton Hospital, while Mrs Davies works privately for local care homes, having retired from the NHS last year.

But after their success in Germany, they both hope to participate in next year’s International Dragon Boat event, the 14th World Nations, which is due to take place in Thailand in August.

‘We will be continuing our training leading up to the time trials and team selection in spring 2019,’ said Mrs Davies.

She added that The British Dragon Boat Association provides information about local dragon boating clubs and opportunities for people to take part in the sport.

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