INSPIRED by World AIDS Day, the Different Strokes LGBTI dragon boating squad has taken its very first gold medal in competition following an event in Wagga Wagga earlier this month.
Held on December 1, the Inaugural Dragon Boat Regatta was held at Lake Albert, which for the first time in many years had enough water for the competition to occur.
Formed in 2008, Different Strokes entered two crews into the regatta, with a mens 10s crew competing as well as a mixed 20s crew. It was the mixed 20s crew that despite a difficult start – including a capsizing – claimed glory and a gold medal in the final after winning their second heat.
Crew member Karthik Jagannathan told the Star Observer that the excitement of the win had still not worn off days after the race.
“We reached out and again and again and again… ‘till the coach said ‘Take it home’,” he said.
“I remember at this point I had this new-found energy in me, I think so did the rest of the crew as the boat inched further and faster.
“The joy of realising we had won the race can’t be put in words. The adrenalin is still pumping today. At work there were moments where I just wanted to grab a paddle and reach.”
The mens 10s required a large 20-person dragon boat to be crewed by only 10 people, with the Different Strokes team just missing out on a place in the final after placing fourth and second in their two heats.
Different Strokes spokesperson Victor Cronin said he was proud of the club’s achievements.
“I don’t think anyone could ask for more from our Different Strokes teams in Wagga Wagga,” he said.
“As a team we pulled together, raced with confidence, supported one another and finished with the taste of success.”
With the club planning to take a team to the 2014 Asia Pacific Outgames in Darwin, Cronin said it was the perfect time for anyone thinking about the sport to give it a go.
“Different Strokes trains three times a week at Blackwattle Bay in Pyrmont,” he said.
“We currently have 85 members, and would encourage everyone to give it a try. Dragon Boating is a sport for everyone.”
INFO: For further information, visit Different Strokes.