The GB Premier dragon boating squad will be training on the River Trent this weekend, in preparation for the IDBF World Championships in Thailand in August.
Team GB has attended either European or international championships every year since the first international championships in 1995.
The premier squad of 20 paddlers train together once a month in locations around the UK as well as training individually 8-10 times per week. This year, four of the 20 are members of Nottingham’s local dragon boat club, Notts Anaconda.
Dragon boating is the UK’s fastest-growing water sport and attracts people from all walks of life. It’s enjoyed by many as a really social, teamworking sport, and is a great way of forming new friendships.
Ali Marsland, a company director from Mapperley Park, has been dragon boating with Notts Anaconda for 20 years.
This is the second time she’s been involved with Team GB. She said: “I’m thrilled to be competing again this year. I joined the squad as drummer for the European championships last year and it was a fantastic experience. I was really pleased to be selected as a paddler this year.”
Ali first tried dragon boating on a whim back in 2003 and loved it. “I was always rubbish at sports when I was younger,” she explained, “but now I realise most of the sports I did at school involve being quick on your feet, which I’m really not; dragon boating is a sitting-down sport, so it’s perfect for me!”
Stuart Oldham, a team manager from Arnold, is also a Team GB veteran, having competed alongside Ali in the European championships last year. He first started dragon boating ten years ago.
“The whole dragon boating community is so supportive, inclusive and committed to making the sport amazing,” he said. “It’s an incredible feeling to be representing my country at an international sporting event once again!”
Alongside a packed training schedule, the squad are trying to raise funds to help meet the cost of entry into the championships.
This includes essential kit and entry fees as well as travel and accommodation costs for every training weekend and the championships themselves – a total of nearly £3,000 per person. Funds are raised through a combination of donations and sponsorships, with a number of sponsorship opportunities available for businesses.
The international championships will take place in Pattaya, Thailand, from Tuesday 8 to Sunday 13 August. Team GB will be racing against teams from Australia, Canada, China, China Hong Kong, China Macau, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Ukraine, and the USA.
Notts Anaconda is based at Trent Bridge and always welcomes new members, with or without any amount of sporting experience. For more information visit www.nottsanaconda.co.uk.