Nov. 30, 2010
Born in Jamaica, Robert immigrated to Canada as a 25 year-old young adult and once in Canada recreational paddling quickly became an important part of his life. Robert became an instant outdoorsman as he took to enjoying white water canoe and kayak for the next decade before life got in the way. Career took him away from recreational paddling until much later in his life. As a physician, Robert joined the Markham Stouffville Hospital SOB (Short Of Breath … of course) dragon boat team in 2003 at the age of 47. After many, many years away from paddling this passion has now been re-ignited inside of him.
Now 55 and with a specific goal of achieving a spot on the Canadian National Mixed Senior B (grand dragon) National Team, Robert and I will be meeting once per week this winter in hopes of improving technically, Robert will also be following a rigorous physical training program to achieve his desired result.
I invite you to grab your weekly coffee and join Robert and I on this journey throughout the next year, in preparation for the 2011 World Championships in Tampa Bay. I will be chronicling our weekly training sessions, technical developments, physical training regimen and nutritional plan, plus including videos of Robert paddling. Please feel free to contribute by sending your thoughts, suggestions or observations as we go.
Let’s start with a little more history. Robert had no formal training in competitive paddling prior to joining the SOB’s. This new sport quickly brought about an excitement and passion inside him as he pushed for constant personal and team improvement from the outset. Robert immediately took the opportunity presented by his coach with SOB (yours truly) to join pdbc club practices free of charge and quickly changed his foray into the sport of dragon boat racing into a lifestyle (practicing 4 times per week with 5 – 6 regattas per summer).
Jump ahead 7 years and Robert’s accomplishments now include: 3x Canadian Champion (Sr B open & mixed), 2x Club Crew World Champion (Sr B open & mixed), 1x World Champion (Sr B open & mixed). Not to mention a host of positive results at local regattas around Ontario with his 2 club crews; SOB’s from Markham Stouffville Hospital and Heat (a collection of 50+ aged athletes from Pickering and Quinte). Though Robert would point to several unheralded accomplishments such as SOB winning the elusive Hospital Cup at GWN in 2010 and earning a spot on the pdbc elite mixed crew in 2010, its hard to argue that his most outstanding dragon boat achievement thus far has been earning a spot on the Canadian National Sr B mixed crew in 2009, a crew that went undefeated in a dominant performance over the rest of the world, winning every race throughout the competition.
Which bring us to the impetus of this project, an email I received from Robert after the National Team training camp in September which read “I need to do something to retain my spot on the mixed crew, I am now 2 years older, the field of competition for spots on the crew is MUCH better and I simply am not as competitive as I need to be in OC testing. Athletes who are much older than I and spend much less time in the gym are not just beating me, they are whipping my ass!”
Well, to me this reads like a proper challenge and one that I can see only having long term benefits to Robert as an athlete and me as a coach, so my response to Robert was “meet me once each week on a paddle machine for technical analysis and development, find the weight training program that best suits your needs and let’s give this our best shot!”
And here we are, and you are invited along for the ride …
The Canadian National Senior B Mixed Dragon Boat roster will be selected sometime in May, with racing positions and spares being decided at the World Championships in Tampa Bay August 5 – 8. Our journey will chronicle Robert’s high and low points between now and then.
Guest blog provided by Andrew Milner
For those who haven't read it, the book is a collection of thoughts of his that just seems to come bubbling up and have been written in some sense of order. I found that a lot of what was said really clicked with me in how I would like to approach Dragon Boat, so one day I sat down and decided to transcribe some of the quotes that stuck out to me so that I could use them in paddling and coaching.
The year was 1992. The Blue Jays were on their way to Canada’s First World Series Championship, The Leafs were about to enter the Doug Gilmour era and Canada was in a recession. Makes you wish the Blue Jays would give us something to cheer about, doesn’t it?