Leading Seaman Carolyn Johnsen has started her Asian Dragon Boat racing campaign in fine form, bagging five bronze medals at her first international racing regatta, as part of the Australian National Dragon Boat Team - The Auroras. Joining Dragon Boat racing's elite teams including China, Philippines, Thailand, Chinese Taipei and Indonesia, the Aussies started their Asian tour with two days of fierce competition at the 11th Asian Dragon Boat Championships held on Nam Van Lake, Macau.
Over 300 paddlers hit the water to race in both standard 20 seat and 'small' 10 seat boats over 200m, 500m and 2km distance races. Considered the most competitive racing in the sport, teams will reach race pace of up to 120 strokes per minute, completing the 500m discipline course in around 1.53 minutes.
China's national sport of Dragon Boat Racing is highly regarded, with athletes lauded for their skill in much the same way Australian's admire AFL and Rugby players. In fact, China and its territories celebrate the sport with a national holiday and week of Dragon Boat Racing celebrations. Supporters and fans of the sport crowded the harbour to cheer on the local and international teams at the colourful, noisy, and exciting regatta and were not disappointed with the performance of their national team.
"This has been such an exciting experience and I have been blown away with the level of interest and esteem the sport receives here in China," Leading Seaman Johnsen said.
"The Chinese women's team are considered sporting heroes in their home towns, yet remain so incredibly humble. This trip has given me a totally different perspective of the sport," she said.
Medal ceremonies include the raising of national flags and playing of anthems. While Advance Australia Fair was not played in Macau, the flag flew proudly above the podium a total of five times, making Australia one of the most awarded teams at the regatta.