Former Western Group chairman Jon Walsh, Infiniti Global Communications manager, represented Great Britain in the Dragon Boat World Championships being held in China this week.

Jon was part of a 70 strong GB team of paddlers with 50% of them coming from Hong Kong where Jon is based. They are all self-funding making the challenge even tougher than the exhaustive and continuous training programme for the actual event.

Jon said before the event, “To be representing GB at a world championship is a fantastic personal achievement. I now understand what top athletes mean when they say how all-consuming the commitment needs to be to be able to compete at this top level. The training is relentless, all logged and monitored for the UK based team to scrutinise, and then there is the kit, the paperwork, logistics and funding to organise. I have never been fitter or more prepared for an event than this one and I can’t wait for the racing to start.”

Making this achievement even more remarkable is Jon’s partner Michelle Lau. They first met when she wanted to know more about Dragon Boat racing and decided to pop along to her local racing team the Stormy Dragons. Teacher for the day, Jon, looked after UK born Michelle.

That was three years ago and in Jon’s own words, “I like to think it was my amazing training skills but she is a star all of her own making and far better than me now!”

The plan to create a squad made up of UK and HK based paddlers was hatched thanks to UK-based Great Britain Coach, Tim William-Smith who embarked on a unique tactic for the 2017 world championships.  He visited Hong Kong in March 2017 to understand the potential of expat paddlers and due to the highly competitive nature of the local paddling scene there was a deep pool of talent to choose from.  

A good example of Dragon Boat racing can be seen here – Jon’s team is in Red.

For the full story of Jon’s journey see –  [email protected]

Robin Roberts
Robin Roberts
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