University staff member selected for Team GB

Women on a boat holding paddles up in Venice

Julie Chan, a member of staff who works at the University of Liverpool’s counselling service, has been chosen to represent Team GB in dragon boat racing this August.

She has been selected for the Senior A dragon boat team to compete in the International Dragon Boat Federation World Championships, which will be hosted in Pattaya, Thailand.

Julie first started dragon boat racing at Liverpool Watersport Centre in 2013, helping to raise funds in support of the Pool of Life breast cancer survivor’s dragon boat crew in Liverpool.

An aerial view of a boat

She now trains with Liverpool-based Amathus Dragon Boat Club and last summer, stepped up her training and started to work with the British National Training Squad. She was then selected to paddle for Team GB.

Dragon boating is not segregated by gender and both men and women compete in mixed squads. Of the 23-strong squad who have been selected to paddle for Team GB in August, just 6 of them are women (including Julie), making her selection a fantastic achievement.

Julie has also represented the University of Liverpool in dragon boat racing at the Northwest England University Confucius Institute Dragon Boat Race last month.

A group of people wearing red t-shirst and smiling

She was also recently invited to paddle with the Pool of Life breast cancer survivors in the Vogalonga Regatta 30 km course in Venice. This is a non-competitive celebration to raise awareness of wave damage, and lagoon degeneration, bringing together Venetians and dragon boat enthusiasts from around the world.

Dragon boating is a fast-growing sport which involves paddling a large canoe style boat with 20 other people plus a drummer on the front and the helm that steers the boat at the back.

Three people with medals and red tshirts holding a trophy

Julie (left) after competing in the annual North West dragon boat race

Julie said: “While I love being able to support others in my work, at the end of my working day I have a love for being afloat on the water in a dragon boat it brings me a real sense of peace and allows me to free my mind.”

“I love the sport, it is a lot of fun and allows for connection, bringing a lot of people together; as competitors, spectators and organisers. I really enjoy that it’s accessible to all regardless of age, ability, or gender.”

While Julie is delighted to have been selected for Team GB for the World Championships, there is unfortunately, no funding available for the cost of her trip and so she is fundraising to help cover the expenses.

A red Chinese dragon by the Liverpool watersport centre

Julie added: “I set up a GoFundMe page to help me meet some of the costs of getting to the Championships, as flights, accommodation, insurance, kit and race fees really add up. I’ve been utterly overwhelmed by the support given by friends, family and colleagues so far and want to say a big thank you to those who’ve already helped me on my journey.”

“It’s an absolute honour to have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to represent Team GB and it’s a dream come true for me to be competing in the sport that I love on the world stage. I’m training hard and hopefully will be able to bring home a medal.”

You can read more about Julie’s story here.

Anyone who is interested in giving dragon boat racing a go can sign up to a free taster session here.