Fingal Bay paddler Sandra Lyons earns gold and silver medals at National Dragon Boat Championships

Fingal Bay’s Sandra Lyons secured gold and silver medals at the recent Australian Dragon Boat Championships held in Western Australia.

TRAVERSING the scenic Port Stephens waterways is a way of life for Fingal Bay’s newly minted paddler Sandra Lyons.

Since taking up the sport of dragon boat racing three years ago the naturally gifted Lyons had developed her craft in leaps and bounds and is now regarded one of the finest senior paddlers in the nation.

It has proved a fascinating journey for evergreen Sandra since linking with the Port Stephens Dragon Boat Club based at Soldiers Point.

She returned home recently with gold and silver medals after representing NSW at the Australian Dragon Boat titles that were staged at Champion Lakes in Armadale, outside of Perth – a tremendous feat.

They are the first national championship medals that Sandra has attained and a just reward for the numerous hours of intensive training sessions she has undergone in and out of the water.

One of her goals for 2024 was to claim a medal at the nation’s premier Dragon Boat regatta but to actually pick up two was a phenomenal effort by the talented late bloomer.

Both State and premium club teams from around the country participated at the national titles with Sandra competing in the Senior C squad (60+ years of age) and securing a gold medal in the Mixed Regular Small Boat (ten person) 1km pursuit event.

She showed her durability and paddling skills to back up and claim a silver medal for her state in the Women’s (20 person) 500m final.

Port Stephens Dragon Boat Club president Karyn Price told News Of The Area that Sandra was a “wonderful ambassador for the club”, describing her as a “real driving force” behind the club’s regatta success in recent years.

“She is the ultimate competitor with a great work ethic who always gives her best and a top role model for all our paddlers in the region,” reflected Karyn.

“We are all so proud of her achievements and truly delighted that she could bring home both a gold and silver medal from the national titles after all the hard work she put in to prepare for the major event,” she added.

Qualification for the national championships included an Ergometer rowing test, in-person physical and in-boat qualifying sessions

Once selected, training required travelling to Sydney twice a month for three months for in boat training with the squad, club training assisted by team coach Brendan Jones and several gym sessions per week.

61-year-old Sandra has represented the club regularly at Regional level during the past three years with her newly acquired national 1km pursuit gold medal taking pride of place among her mounting collection of paddling honours.

Talented Anna Bay paddler Janine Noonan was invited to train with the NSW Senior B (50-60 years) squad in the lead up to the titles.

Port Stephens Dragon Boat Club competed at a recent event in Urunga on the Coffs Coast in preparation for the upcoming Port Macquarie regatta over the June long weekend.

The progressive club will experiment with combinations across various disciplines as they build towards the Pan Pacific Games to be staged on the Gold Coast in November.

By Chris KARAS

Leave a Reply