Yukon seniors gear up to compete in 55+ Canada Games


At 89, Nesta Leduc is the oldest team member of the Elder Active dragon boat program in Whitehorse.

She is living proof that it’s never too late to learn something new.

« I’ve paddled quite a bit, kayaking and canoeing, but this is my first attempt at paddling in a large group and being on time, » she said.

Dragon Boat Racing is a great team sport and requires a lot of strength, flexibility, and timing. (Sissi De Flaviis/CBC)

A friend persuaded Leduc to join the team led by Flatwater North. It’s been a joyful experience so far, but dragon boat racing requires a lot of strength, flexibility and timing, which presents challenges for Leduc.

« I find it quite difficult to paddle to the beat. I’m not as young as I used to be, » she said.

Sport has always occupied a central place in Leduc’s life.

« I’ve always exercised. I’ve never run, but I’ve walked a lot, I paddle, I swim every morning in the pool, and that’s why I’m still here at 89, and able to do stuff,” she said moments before heading to the doctors for Tuesday afternoon practice at Schwatka Lake.

She and her team are preparing to compete at the Canada 55+ Games in Kamloops, BC next month.

But this will not be Leduc’s first participation in the competition. In fact, since 1984 she has participated in multiple sports and roles, including first aid, swimming, cycling and now, dragon boat racing.

« I learned that as long as I put the paddle in the water, it doesn’t matter how long I pull, as long as I’m in tune, in rhythm, with everyone, » said Leduc, the oldest member. of the team. . (Sissi De Flaviis/CBC)

Brianna Hartness, Flatwater North’s head coach, said August’s dragon boat event will be a demonstration race without medals.

« They worked pretty hard, » she said.

Hartness said there were 30 people on the list.

« They’re just showing what the sport is. Hopefully we can create a tradition here for more dragon boat racing, » she said.

New challenges

The Elder Active Dragon Boat Team trained at the Canada Games Center Pool during the winter months. (Submitted by Brianna Hartness)

Dragon boat racing is not particularly popular in the northern regions of Canada compared to the southern provinces. Part of the reason is that there aren’t many opportunities to practice.

During the winter, the team used to train at the pool at the Canada Games Center and just moved to Schwatka Lake when the ice melted.

Stella Martin said she was excited to learn from more experienced teams once the Yukon group travels to British Columbia for the Canada 55+ Games. (Sissi De Flaviis/CBC)

Stella Martin, one of the team members, said this could cause problems during the actual competition.

« First of all, we’re all first-time dragon boaters. We’ll constantly be up against the gang from BC who make dragon boats, » she said. « We are on a lake [now], we’re going to be in whitewater for the first time, and we won’t have the chance to practice in one of their boats until race time. So we are faced with some small curves. »

Martin said that regardless of the challenges, she is excited to learn from other teams and be within walking distance of the water.

The team will continue to train twice a week until they leave for the competition next month.

Geana Hadley and Jan Brault at weekly dragon boat training. (Sissi De Flaviis/CBC)



Back to top button