Dragon boating: Port Macquarie's Glenys Cummings and Merche Benson

Off to China: Port Macquarie paddlers Glenys Cummings and Merche Benson are off to the world championships. Photo: Matt Attard

Off to China: Port Macquarie paddlers Glenys Cummings and Merche Benson are off to the world championships. Photo: Matt Attard

FIVE years ago Glenys Cummings’ knowledge of dragon boating was limited and now she is about to compete on the world stage.

The 62-year-old admitted she had always been interested in sport and was privileged to be able to represent her country.

“Who would have thought could don the green and gold at my age,” she said.

“But my age is just a number, I know I can do this.”

The Port Macquarie paddler will join Flamin’ Dragons club mate Merche Benson for a trip to Lake Dianchi in China.

They will compete in the Australian team at the 13th IDBF World Nations Championships.

“I’ve watched it over the years and always wanted to try it, but never had the opportunity until I came to Port Macquarie,” she said.

Cummings moved to the Hastings to be closer to her sister after retiring from work in the Northern Territory.

“Not only did I get the chance to take up dragon boating when I moved here, but I’ve now got the chance to paddle at the ultimate level,” she said.

“I can’t go any further than that.”

She still has to pinch herself to believe she will be representing Australia in the Senior C Class alongside Benson on October 18.

The intense training schedule on the water each week is a quick reminder that they aren’t dreaming.

Not only did I get the chance to take up dragon boating when I moved here, but I’ve got the chance to paddle at the ultimate level.

Glenys Cummings

“We’re supposed to be doing 70 kilometres a week, plus our training with our own club the Flamin’ Dragons so it’s been huge the build-up,” Cummings said.

“But that’s what you expect. You’re paddling for Australia, you don’t expect to hop in a boat and just go. You have to do a lot of training beforehand.”

To be selected in the team, Cummings and Benson both had to do videos of a fitness session before they sent it away to national coaches.

“I spoke to the coach we had and asked if I would have been wasting my time trying out and he said not at all,” Cummings said.

“So I put my name forward and Merche did the same and then the coaches look at those videos and select who they want to go to a camp.”

Making the training camp was only the first step in eventual selection in the green and gold.

“We went to a camp in Melbourne where we did lots of trials and fitness testing and stuff like that and from that they select the team,” Cummings said.

“I’m overwhelmed. I can’t believe it – I’m paddling at the ultimate of my sport. I can’t paddle any higher – this is it.”

We’re supposed to be doing 70 kilometres a week, but you’re paddling for Australia, you don’t expect to hop in a boat and just go.

Glenys Cummings

But the local duo aren’t satisfied just to have made the team, Cummings said she wants to bring home some bling.

“I’m hoping to come back with a gold medal and be the best in our team and the world,” she said.

“It’s going to make me a stronger paddler so then I can contribute more to my club as well when I come back.”

The team has five days of racing which includes 200-metre, 500-metre, one-kilometre, two-kilometre and five kilometre events.

They fly out from Melbourne on Saturday night.