Congratulations to Australia’s newest World Champions, the 2009 Australian Masters Mixed 500m Crew!

With much hard work and dedication they have attained the ultimate accolade in dragon boat racing…

Congratulations to Australia’s newest World Champions, the 2009 Australian Masters Mixed 500m Crew!!!

With much hard work and dedication they have attained the ultimate accolade in dragon boat racing, and at the blue ribbon distance of 500m!

With such a fantastic achievement the question on everyone’s lips is where do the World’s best dragon boat paddlers go from here?

A bronze to the Men in the 200m and the Women narrowly missing out on podium finishes numerous times topped off what must be Australia’s most successful Masters team ever.

An awesome effort in what was the most competitive World Championships to date for the Premier Division saw Australia unfortunately narrowly miss out on making final after final. The result is no doubt disappointing to the squad. However take the friendships formed together with the invaluable experience gained not only from the championships themselves but from the campaign as a whole and we’ll see many having created a platform on which to take future paddling adventures to a whole new level.

Continuing their success from Sydney the Grand Dragon Women achieved silver in the 200m and 500m as well as bronze in the 2000m. Opens achieved bronze in the 1000m while Mixed got bronze in the 200m.

The Australian Juniors also put up a great effort against some very intense most un-junior-like competition.

In the uniform swapping stakes Norm gets the top prize. It was no surpise that he took to it the same way he paddles. He went out hard early and was relentless to the very end in his pursuit swapping everything from race gear to cheapy Aussie t-shirts. Look out for Norm wearing a dazzling array of new paddling gear at upcoming training sessions.

Following is a writeup from our very own Amanda Wyllie who coached the Master Womens Crew:

Gold in Prague

It is the holy grail of dragon boat paddling " the World Championships " and winning GOLD is a pipe dream that you have from the moment you pick up a paddle (well, almost). But to actually do it .. it still doesn’t seem real.

There is always such a build up to these races. There’s the hours on the water, in the gym, pounding the pavement (running, that is), giving up friends and family, getting little sleep and trying to hold down a job that will continue to pay you while to prop up your desk in-between training sessions!

The things that kept me going were the people – in the masters women, in the masters as a whole, the rest of the AusSquad with the GDs and Prems. There was a vibe that was so positive, dedicated and respectful of each other, with this huge commitment to paddling our best. Everyone wanted to do better, to challenge themselves and to do it for each other. It was as close to the feeling that we have with the PDs that I’ve ever experienced with an AusSquad – truly amazing!

And that support, that commitment and friendship was in abundance when we won the gold medal. To hear the screams from the crowd as we raced, building louder as we got closer to the finish line and the absolutely roar from the sidelines as we came across the line in first place is probably the thing that I will remember most about that moment. Looking up to the shoreline and seeing the smiles, the tears of joy, the pride of the AusSquad was awesome.

But in amongst all of this, I really want to convey that it wasn’t just about the people in the boat. We were the lucky ones to get the medal but there was a whole squad of people who trained their hearts out who deserve the accolades and the respect just as much.

Congratulations to the whole AusSquad – we are all champions! We hope that we can make it an even better result in Tampa, Florida in 2011 – training starts now!

More links…

Check out more pics from the World Champs in the PD Photo Gallery.

You can get the paddlers take on the World Champs via PD forum postings.

Footage of the masters post-race gold medal celebrations can be found on DB TV.

Official results on the IDBF World Champs website.