MEDAL TALLY: South Grafton dragon boat champion Tom McKenna was presented with a State Representative Award by Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis.
MEDAL TALLY: South Grafton dragon boat champion Tom McKenna was presented with a State Representative Award by Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis. Contributed

WHAT A DRAGON: McKenna a NSW Champion

DRAGON BOATS: After he first picked up a paddle and jumped into a dragon boat just three years ago, Tom McKenna is now a champion of the sport, with the gold medals and certificate to prove it.

Last week McKenna was presented with a NSW Government State Representative Award after representing the state at the 2018 Australian Dragon Boat Championships in March, where he won a gold in the mixed 500m event and two silver medals for the Open category and relay event.

Since then McKenna was selected to represent his state again as part of the NSW Motley Crew for the Pan Pacific Masters Games, where he raced across A, B and C Divisions and went on to win seven gold and two silver medals.

"I paddled in the C Division, which is from 60 to any age, and we were undefeated, we won gold in every race we went in,” McKenna said.

"I also paddled in the cancer survivors team and won gold in the 500m there, and I was fortunate enough to be good enough to paddle with the Mixed B team where we won silver in the final.

McKenna then went on to claim two more gold medals in the C Division over 200m, as well as gold with the cancer survivors and a gold with the B Division team before paddling in the A Division team over the marathon distance where he won silver.

McKenna said he was extremely proud of the efforts of the teams.

"I never dreamed that I'd be doing this at 65 as a teenager,” McKenna said.

"It was fantastic racing, really top class competition, and I was as happy as a pig in mud with it. I was honoured to represent my town, my community and my family, and it was a great team effort.

"There were teams from Singapore, Canada, New Zealand and all over Australia so the competition was fierce.”

What makes McKenna's achievements all the more spectacular is that he is a cancer survivor, and has only been a part of the sport for three years.

"Dragon boating is such a great sport, I really enjoy it and I would strongly recommend anyone who is thinking about doing it to give it a go,” he said.

"It's a sport where there's something for everyone, it's just so much fun.”

McKenna has previously represented NSW at the national level at the Australian Masters Games, as well as at the Dragon Boat World Championships.