Elly Ireland has returned from the world dragon boat championships with a swag of bronze medals
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The Red Bend Catholic College student was selected in the Australian Auroras Under 18s team for the 2023 International Dragon Boat Federation World Nations championships.
Canada and the USA dominated the Under 18s competition, taking out gold and silver across six gruelling days of competition
Elly and her teammates came home with a stunning seven bronze medals in the mixed and women's races, in distances from 200m to 2km.
With two heats and a final in each category, it was a huge week.
"It was a very good experience for somebody who has only ever been to Canberra regattas and two State carnivals so I'm very thankful for the opportunity," Elly said on her return.
Elly had only had two training camps with the entire team before leaving for Thailand, although she'd travelled for an additional session with the Sydney paddlers.
Most of her training has been right here on Lake Forbes, using her dragon boat paddles in a kayak with her Pa Neil May.
She's also been a regular at Black Ridge Gym, building her fitness for the campaign.
"We do 2km races at Canberra when we go there for regatta but it's normally only one of them, and I've never raced in a 1km straight before," Elly said.
We were always kind of sitting in third," she added.
"On the last day we were close to a silver but just short - just 0.8 of a second off. Everyone was very pumped up about it."
The world championships are held every two years and 2021 was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions, so Australia had an entirely new crew in their Under 18s boat.
Elly has risen quickly through the representative ranks of the sport since she first took up a paddle with grandfather Neil May and the Forbes Dragon Boat Club three years ago.
After a disrupted start due to COVID-19 restrictions, she's been competing with the club and with the Western Region team under the eye of Forbes coach Chris Favelle.
Western teammates Rhonda Betts (Dubbo Outback Dragons) and Kerry Madden (Orange Colour City) were also selected for the Australian Auroras in the Senior C (over 60s) team, and Estella Ferri (Orange Colour City) in the Senior A team.
All three brought home gold from Thailand.
Coach Chris Favelle, who's had them all in training on Lake Forbes, is thrilled.
"It's absolutely amazing," he said.
Elly can't wait for the local dragon boat club to start Thursday night training again, they'll do that when daylight saving time is introduced.
Sunday morning training continues and anyone is welcome to try the sport, a dragon pass will get you a month's trial so you can make up your mind about longer term membership.
Be at the dragon boat shed on Lake Forbes near the back of the bowlie, by 8.15am, to chat to the friendly crew. The boat is on the water by 8.30am.
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