Paralympian on board to help CanSurvive Dragonboat team towards world champs
CanSurvive Dragonboat team are tough to beat, on and off the water.
The Wellington-based team, made up of breast cancer survivors, have already started training in preparation for the next International Breast Cancer Paddlers Commission world championships in Florence, Italy in 2018.
And now they have a secret weapon.
Paula Tesoriero, a gold medal winning Paralympics cyclist, has come on board as team manager.
*Champion dragon boat crew aiming for regatta in US
*Dragon boat crew claim third in Florida
*Cancer survivors win national dragon boat title
*Breast cancer survivors named top Wellington sports team
Team chairwoman Iona Elwood-Smith says Tesoriero brings a lot to the team, which has already pushed itself and done well nationally and internationally.
"Just her energy and experience and having that external knowledge ... She's really insightful.
"The team have such a high respect for her, she just brings such a new and dynamic perspective."
Tesoriero had helped the team behind the scenes for some time, but was excited to now have an official role.
She says she was drawn to the team because of their dedication and aim to be the best they can be.
"As with Paralympic sport, those who paddle as part of the international breast cancer teams are united by something much bigger.
"This creates a sense of purpose, camaraderie and support."
Team member Bette Cosgrove says the team have already begun their lead up to the next world championships, even though it is still 20 months away.
The dragonboat season is short, usually from December to March, but the CanSurvive women train year-round in order to keep their fitness and skill levels up.
The team wants to better their current world ranking of third and are prepared to put in the hard work.
"We've got tough comp and we just want to maintain our fitness and keep going," Cosgrove says.
"If you have a break from the sport and stop and start it's much more difficult."
Cosgrove says the relationships within the team are special.
"I guess having that shared experience gives us an edge and you're doing it for the team as much as doing it for yourself. It's an eclectic group of women from all walks of lives, all kinds of ethnicities, all kinds of backgrounds … many of us would never have met each other, never have made these bonds ... if it weren't for breast cancer."
They only take paddlers six months after their treatment has concluded, with a doctor's certificate, but Elwood-Smith says they have been contacted by women still having treatment and once by a women the day after her diagnosis.