By Greg Bobinec
Alta Newspaper Group – Lethbridge
Taber’s Romina Senneker has returned from the International Dragon Boat Federation World Championships in Thailand, with four silver medals to show proudly.
Competing on the world stage, the Canadian 50+ Senior Women’s B team, which Senneker was a member of, medalled in four race divisions including 200, 500, 1,000 and 2,000 metres. Returning to her southern Alberta teammates, Senneker is thankful for all of their support through the process and reflects on the moments that got her to compete at an international level.
“I started boating with Lethbridge College 16 years ago and it was just for fun to engage with some friends and come and do the Dragon Boat Festival,” said Senneker. “About three years ago I connected with Karen Johnson who runs the festival and I asked her what does it take to compete at a higher level and she introduced to me to some people at the Calgary festival. I got an invitation to go and meet the Edmonton team and they were preparing for the World Championships in Hungary and they had an open tryout, so I went to find out more about the team. I tried out for their team and ended up making it, went to Hungary last year.”
Earning a spot on the national team was no easy task, as Senneker had to compete against dozens of other women with the same dream of representing Canada on the world stage.
“To get on to the team, I was competing against the best women in Canada. We started out with 120 women and after our testing and training in November there were 62 that stayed with the program, and out of that I was one of 25 that made it, so it is pretty intense,” she said.
When Karen Johnson, technical director for the Dragon Boat Association of Southern Alberta, became aware of Senneker’s passion for competition she assisted her in any way. Johnson says being able to watch her grow as an athlete has been inspirational and the whole team was cheering her on from across the world, through every match.
“We were extremely proud when she made the Canadian national team because that is all of Canada, and for someone from Alberta to make it was great,” said Johnson. “When they were racing it was night time here and I know most of us were up watching the live feed, screaming at our iPads and cheering her on, and to watch Canada do so well and know somebody in the boats was great.”
Senneker says her favourite moments of the Dragon Boat Federation’s World Championships was being able to observe all of the major athletic teams who were setting record times and moving at speeds she didn’t think were possible. Senneker says she hopes she will be able to represent Canada once again.
“Being my first time, you don’t really know what to expect and when you get out there you have to remember that you are representing Canada, so everything you do, you do at 100 per cent,” said Senneker. “I would really like to go back to the national team.”