No limits for these survivors

20:05, Feb 18 2013
Dragon boat team
Team work: Marlborough’s Simply the Breast dragon boat team training on the Wairau River. Coralie Holdaway is on the tiller at left, and coach Anna Radmall is on the drum at right.

Marlborough's breast cancer survivor dragon boat team have increased their chances for victory with a new coach with 10 world dragon boat champion titles under her belt.

Simply the Breast team coach Anna Radmall moved to Marlborough about two years ago, after spending most of her adult life in Germany.

Last year, she joined the dragon boat team and this season took on the role as head coach.

Anna Radmall
Coach: Simply the Breast coach Anna Radmall has 10 world dragon boat champion titles.

The Simply the Breast team began about six years ago and is made up of 22 women aged in their 40s through to their 70s. Each member, apart from team president Coralie Holdaway and Miss Radmall, has had breast cancer.

Mrs Holdaway said the team proved there was life after breast cancer.

"These women are well, they're fit and they are capable of doing extremely physical activities."


Dragon boat team
Simply the Breast dragon boat team

Miss Radmall began dragon boating 15 years ago in Germany and started her international coaching career about eight years ago.

Her coaching skills have won her work with all levels, from corporate teams to the national German dragon boat team which she paddled in and coached from 2007 to 2010.

Mrs Holdaway said the team has improved dramatically since Miss Radmall took over the reins. The dragon boating season runs from October to April.

"We are so lucky," she said. "Anna focuses on technique and you really can notice the difference."

Miss Radmall was coached by a breast cancer survivor when she first started out in the sport.

"The activity of dragon boating is recognised as being particularly beneficial for people who've had surgery," she said.

"The technique of the paddling limbers you up again and gets your body moving."

The team train two times a week and one Sunday a month. On Sunday they will take part in a regatta in Pegasus, followed by another in March and the New Zealand National Dragonboating Championships in Rotorua in April.

Breast cancer awareness had increased dramatically in the past five years and the support of the community with fundraising ventures helped the team compete.

"It's an amazing community here in Marlborough, they're very, very supportive," Mrs Holdaway said.

Miss Radmall said the team members were all capable, able-bodied women.

"Everybody is very conscious we're a breast cancer team but I'm afraid I don't make any special allowances for that," she said.

"I do say to push yourself to your limits and they do know where their limits are. And that's my job."

The Marlborough Express