Young Valley dragons roar at Australian titles
DRAGON BOATS: With six medals between them, Travis O'Connor and Tyler Hogden have returned home from the National Dragon Boating titles victorious.
The Grafton Dragon Boat Club members faced strong competition from around the country as they competed as part of the Joeys - teams made up of juniors from all over Australia who don't have a club team in the Nationals.
"To come home with five medals, three gold, a silver and a bronze, I was like that is pretty cool,” Travis said.
"The competition was pretty hard competing against teams who train. Our team, we go up there, we're just a mixed team. Our first training session is our first race, so it's pretty rough.
"To bring home five medals that's pretty good when you've never trained together and never raced together.”
Travis said it can be hard to not know who you are getting in the boat with, but this time around it was obviously a successful team.
"We don't know how we're going to go, you don't know if we're going to like the people, you've just got to wing it and see what happens.”
This was Travis's second time at Nationals, and this year there was a little added pressure.
"It was different this time because we had the Commonwealth Games committee come and watch, which was pretty intense to know they were there watching dragon boating,” he said.
Travis said they were checking out the sport to see whether it should be in the Commonwealth Games in the future.
Next year, Travis is hoping to compete at Nationals again, but he's also got plans to try out for Worlds.
Tyler, who brought home one medal, enjoyed her first year competing at the national competition.
"(I got the medal) for the women's 500m, (the competition) was long and fun,” she said.
"The competition was pretty hard but they were all juniors too.”
After getting into dragon boating because of her mother, Tyler is now looking forward to trying out for the Australian team, the Auroras in July.