WRIGHT’S Beach paddler Dianne Chellew has proved over and over again she is someone who never gives up.
Having bounced back from breast cancer earlier in her career and from a full knee replacement last year, Chellew was in a good place after returning from the World Master Games and the Marathon Canoe World Championships with plenty of silverware.
But after being struck down by a bad case of shingles late last year, she was left in a great deal of pain and unable to train since September.
Nevertheless, it did not stop her from taking her place at the Australian Marathon Canoe Championships over the Easter weekend in Ballarat, Victoria.
In miserable, freezing conditions, where some competitors had to be treated for hypothermia, Chellew managed to win a gold medal in the K2 doubles with her partner Judy Derbyshire from Western Australia and a silver in the K1 singles.
Having been out of the water for so long, Chellew said she was terrified she would not be able to make the 18.8 kilometre distance and also felt due to her age, paddling for so long could be a potential health risk.
But after being given the all clear to compete from her GP, Chellew knew she had to get out there and give it a crack.
“Once I started and got into a rhythm, I knew that I could sit there and paddle at that speed all day,” she said.
“I couldn’t do any more, because [of the shingles] every time I started to breathe deeply, it was like being stabbed in the ribs.
“But it was almost like the further I went, the better I felt.
“Whether I got a little bit more confidence that I could do it or whether everything just loosened up a little bit, but we actually got into a really good routine.”
The results in Ballarat meant Chellew once again qualified for the World Marathon Canoe Championships, which will be held in Oklahoma City in the United States in September.
In previous years the masters team for the championships has always been separate to the rest of the Australian, but for the first time, they will all compete as one, which is a particularly big thrill for Chellew.
“We’re Australian representatives in the true sense of the word and that’s a really big buzz for me, because I can say that I represented Australia in kayaking.”