Sunday, 17 December 2017

Teacher's golden treble at world championships

A WOMAN from Henley has become a triple world champion.

A WOMAN from Henley has become a triple world champion.

Dragon boat racer Tanya van der Werff, 46, was part of the Great Britain team that won the 200m, 500m and 2,000m events at the world championships in Canada.

Miss van der Werff, who lives in River Terrace and is head of history at Reading Blue Coat School in Sonning, has been paddling with the Henley Dragons for 10 years.

She has previously competed in four European championships, winning medals each time, but this was the first time she had appeared at the world championships, which were held in Welland, Ontario, close to Niagara Falls.

Miss van der Werff, who was part of a 150-strong GB squad, said: ?I haven?t stopped grinning yet. On the Sunday after the last race I was absolutely delighted to have won a gold medal. Everybody was happy.

?The organisers put on a big after-party with a DJ. The senior squad were the last people on the dance floor! It wasn?t until I woke up the next day that I thought ?I?m a world champion?. It?s really good feeling.

?This makes all the training in the winter and sacrificing seeing friends and family worthwhile. The medals are in my handbag so I can show everybody!? She was competing in the senior A women?s category and her crew had nine other women, a helm and a drummer.

?The standard of racing was seriously fierce,? said Miss van der Werff. ?We were there with a fairly large Great Britain squad, about 150 athletes, and about 2,000 athletes overall. For some people it was not just their first world championships but their first time paddling for Great Britain.

?It?s a real team sport ? you don?t do dragon boating on your own so everybody was supportive. Dragon boat racing is massive in Canada. Just the town we were in had three clubs whereas there are just six or seven in south-east England.?

Miss van der Werff was selected after time trials in March and June. She was unable to compete in previous world championships because the dates always clashed with school expeditions that she was leading. Her training regime, which began in October, involved paddling with her club and in a canoe, weight training, running and swimming.

?At the peak of my training, I was doing 10 sessions a week,? she said. ?I had to try to fit training around work and around things that I couldn?t miss.?

The Henley Dragons, who are based at the Eyot Boat Centre, off Wargrave Road, had eight other members competing for Great Britain at the championships.

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