Pink, the magic dragon

Helen Glave
June 28, 2007

If you happen to be near the River Arno and hear the rhythmic pounding of a drum, the chances are the Florence Dragon Ladies are out on the water. The ladies’ rowing team is currently training hard for the National Dragon Boat Championships to be held July 14 and 15 in Sabaudia, south of Rome.


Their ages range from 45 to 77, but these ladies have one thing in common: they are all survivors of  breast cancer. Having won the race of their lives, they are now channelling their energy and determination into this strenuous sport, and spreading the message that even after breast cancer, life can be active, fulfilling and fun.


Florence Dragon Ladies was launched in February 2006 by the Florentine section of the Lega Italiana per la Lotta contro i Tumori in conjunction with the city rowing club, the Società Canottieri Comunali.  Since then, the team has been training twice a week with coach Alessandro Piccardi and has taken part in numerous races and events.


Dragon boat racing is one of the fastest-growing water sports in the world.  The boat itself, which takes its name from the dragon head and tail decorations on the original Chinese crafts, is an open craft powered by up to 20 long-handled paddles and a steering paddle at the stern. The pace is dictated by the beat of a drum fitted in the bows. 


As a result of its participation in the Vogalonga in Venice last May, the team will fly to Sydney in September to compete in the World Dragon Boat Championships. But for the moment, the ladies’ hearts are set on beating the team’s closest rival, the Pink Butterflies of Rome.

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