Sitting in a boat in the middle of Hungary’s Tisza River, Marie-Geneviève Houpert knows she is a long way from her Montreal home.
She is one member of an all-women’s Montreal dragon boat team competing in the 11th Club Crew World Championship in Szeged, Hungary, at the Szegedi Olympic Center.
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‘Ice Dragon boat’ race held on Ottawa’s frozen Rideau Canal
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“We first starting paddling together in the standard boat (20 paddlers) and we decided to start a 10-woman boat to send to the club crew world championship, when our standard boat did not qualify,” Houpert told Global News.
It’s their first year competing, but the team, Arsenal, has already won gold in the 200-metre race Wednesday, beating 27 other teams.
They also took home the gold in the 500-metre race Friday and the 2,000-metre race Sunday on the Tisza River — bringing home three gold medals.
“It’s a huge honour. It still hasn’t sunk in 100 per cent that we won gold in the 200 metres. I’m so proud,” Houpert said.
“I’m incredibly proud to say we’re bringing home that title, if you will, and proud of the accomplishment — the personal, the team — we’ve done so much together. So many hours we’ve spent together, through wind, rain, hot, cold.”
A Canadian women’s dragon boat team wins gold in Hungary.
Most of the women — if not all of them — have been paddling for five or more years; the youngest is 26 years old and the oldest is 41.
“Canada is a power house in dragon boat racing,” Coach Carlos Antonio Martinez pointed out.
“Our ladies were world champions in 2017 and this country, as a whole with the men, mixed and women, won the cup in 2015.”
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The team has been training since November in the indoor facilities at the Olympic basin at Jean-Drapeau before heading outdoors in the spring.
WATCH BELOW: Arsenal, in lane six, wins gold (race starts at 6 hours 34 minutes).
“We have been practicing on water anywhere between four and eight hours a week to get ready for this competition,” Houpert told Global News.
“Aside from dragon boat practices, we also train at the gym and on the outrigger.”
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Martinez says he hopes to convince some of the team members to try out for the national team.
“I thought, ‘Our team is good and we’ll be able to match,’ but never in our wildest dreams did I think that our team would kick it out of the park like we did,” she said.
The team is comprised of:
Andrée-Anne Simard (captain)Sophie Brassard-GagnonMarie-Eve BugeaudLaurence DoyleAnnick BélangerCatherine GalimardAnnie MarcotteMaude BourassaMélissa RiouxValérie BoisvertMarie-Geneviève HoupertMarianne GaumondIness BakhbukhCoach Carlos Antonio Martinez