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Sport Tourism London Rowbust Breast Cancer Survivor Dragon Boat Team Headed to Worlds in Australia



  • By Tourism London

How do a group of women who are daughters, sisters, mothers and/or grandmothers from various backgrounds, brought together by breast cancer become World Champions?  By having 70 teammates who support all levels of paddling and all levels of competition and who always "have our backs"!  By being determined, focused and enthusiastic. And by having Coaches who have allowed us to dream bigger than we ever thought possible and who make us believe in the dream because they believe in us!  Together we are the Rowbust Breast Cancer Survivor Dragon Boat Racing Team from London, Ontario Canada. 

The 2014 Club Crew World Championships (CCWC) in Ravenna, Italy was the first time that the International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) recognized the Breast Cancer Survivor (BCS) Division. Rowbust was there.  We competed against BCS teams from many other countries and paddled to victory, winning World Championship Gold in the 200m, 500m and 2000m distance races. 

On March 19, 2016, Rowbust will depart for Adelaide, Australia to compete against other highly competitive BCS teams to defend that World Championship title.  

Before landing in Adelaide, we will spend a week in Canberra, Australia getting accustom to the drastic time change and training to get "race ready" as this CCWC competition comes at the end of the paddling season in Australia but before the season starts in Canada.   

Rowbust's road to Adelaide has taken a different path than what is considered normal for us when preparing for a competition of this kind. Since the 2016 CCWC is in early April our crew stayed on the water at Fanshawe Lake well into December even though we are typically off the water at Thanksgiving. Fortunately, Ontario has enjoyed a milder than usual winter and we only had a few days of rain, wind and snow in December. We have undertaken a focused training schedule at Movati Athletic who has sponsored Rowbust for 14 years with free gym memberships and trainers. We have also taken advantage of the Welland International Flatwater Center’s world class paddling tank facilities during the winter months.  We are well prepared for this competition. 

Another challenge that we have faced is the cost of transporting the full crew and coaches to Australia. Rowbust had lobbied so hard for the BCS division to be recognized at the World level and for the BCS division to be treated just like any other paddling division that it was a must-have for Rowbust to go and defend.  All we had to do was to figure out how! 

Starting in September 2015, after our race season had finished, Rowbust organized a number of different targeted fund raising events for funding our “Aussie crew”. Fortunately we are based in a community that is supportive of our goals and enjoys being around our contagious energy. 

An incredible amount of work by a dedicated group of Rowbust volunteers went into the planning and organization of the following events:

  • Our Fall Golf Tournament was sold out with 144 enthusiastic golfers and our Silent and Live Auction. 
  • The “Boob Tour” Comedy night was also a sold out event in which comedians from Calgary came to entertain the lively crowd. 
  • Christmas Inspirations by Design featured local garden, house designer and clothing entrepreneurs who entertained with the latest styles.
  • Our Bocce Ball Tournament was a fun way to let others show their "competitive" spirit. 
  • Sarah Smith Music Night with and opening band Small Council had the building dancing in the aisles.
  • A Taste of Gold featured other Gold Medal Athletes such as Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, Damian Warner, Dave Willsie and Teresa Carriere.

Along with these major fund raisers, Rowbust has had many donors and sponsors to assist us with our goal to show the world what breast cancer survivor athletes can do and how healthy we can be after the diagnosis of breast cancer. Within 5 months, Rowbust has been very successful at our fund raising efforts and is well on our way to paying for the crew of 26 to travel to Australia.

We won’t be alone in Adelaide, a Rowbust Angel will be with us. Beloved teammate, Gail Hathaway lost her second battle with cancer 8 weeks after competing in Italy in 2014.  Gail was a proud member of Rowbust, one of our biggest, most enthusiastic cheerleaders and she will be in our hearts as we race down that course, watching over us along with all of our fallen sisters.  Losing members to a cancer rediagnosis is an unfortunate reality for all BCS Dragon Boat teams.  It is never easy to lose loved ones but we cherish the memories of these great women and carry them with us at every event we attend. 

We invite you to watch the Live Stream of the Club Crew World Championships when the BCS teams compete on April 1, 2 and 3, 2016. The BCS division will be well represented and very competitive ensuring that the world takes notice of the Breast Cancer Survivor Division.

Follow Rowbust's adventures on our Rowbust Blog at www.rowbustdragonboat.com or "Like" us on Facebook or on Twitter @RowbustBCS

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