Top team sur­vives and thrives

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By DANIEL WHIT­FIELD

Ngawai Richard­son al­most fell off her chair when the dragon boat team she be­longs to was named the 2015 team of the year.

When she started pad­dling for the Cansur­vive team about 11 years ago, she said win­ning such an award never crossed her mind.

‘‘The na­tion­als were good and the worlds were amaz­ing, but this is some­thing else,’’ the Whitby res­i­dent said.

The Cansur­vive team is made up of breast can­cer sur­vivors from the Welling­ton re­gion who thrive on the fit­ness and fun that comes from be­ing part of the sport.

They were se­lected as the team of the year at the 2015 Sport Welling­ton awards re­cently, beat­ing the Welling­ton Fire­birds and Welling­ton Saints.

Richard­son, a breast can­cer sur­vivor, said it was a great hon­our for the team to have their sports achieve­ments recog­nised.

‘‘We didn’t ex­pect it,’’ she said, though they were run­ners-up last year.

The Cansur­vive pad­dlers have col­lected medals at var­i­ous in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions, in­clud­ing a bronze at the world cham­pi­onship in Florida last Oc­to­ber.

‘‘ We’ve grown from never hav­ing achieve­ments to a bar­rage of sil­ver and bronze medals, to this.’’

Richard­son said that though it was about par­tic­i­pa­tion and sports­man­ship, the com­pet­i­tive­ness of the team had also in­creased.

She said it was some­thing that kept them fit and ac­tive, and that ev­ery­one was determined to get some­where, es­pe­cially af­ter where they had come from.

‘‘For me, it’s been an in­ter­est­ing jour­ney. I grew up in Lower Hutt and did ev­ery sport you can think of. I’ve been over here for about 35 years, and still go to the gym three to four times a week, in be­tween train­ing.’’

Richard­son was di­ag­nosed 12 years ago, but has been go­ing strong since, de­spite the can­cer re­turn­ing a few years ago.

She said she hoped to pad­dle for many more years.

Coach Ja­cob de Fei­jter said Cansur­vive was more spe­cial than any other team be­cause of what the mem­bers had been through.

‘‘They’ve evolved into a great team and that’s what mo­ti­vates them,’’ he said.

Richard­son said Cansur­vive was set­ting up a sec­ond team made up of not just breast can­cer sur­vivors. That team would be less com­pet­i­tive at the start and would par­tic­i­pate only in Welling­ton re­gional re­gat­tas, but was there to pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity for begin­ners. Eigh­teen pad­dlers are needed and sev­eral ‘‘have a go’’ days have been sched­uled: July 5, Au­gust 2 and Septem­ber 13.

Cansur­vive is one of seven breast can­cer dragon boat teams in New Zealand.

Photo: DANIEL WHIT­FIELD

Cansur­vive’s dragon boaters Ngawai Richard­son, left, coach Ja­cob de Fei­jter, and Jo Sut­ton are pleased with the sports team of the years ac­knowl­edge­ment.

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