WRIGHTS Beach kayaker Dianne Chellew has returned from the World Marathon Canoe Championships in Singapore with a host of medals and some wonderful memories.
Following on from the Australian Masters Games in Adelaide, where she won eight medals, including four gold, two silver and two bronze, Chellew won two gold medals at the world titles.
As well as being delighted with her success she was also astounded with the man-made course.
“It was an amazing venue,” she said.
“The course was just spectacular, a man-made lake area that even included a football (soccer) field in the middle of it, surrounded by some spectacular motels.
“It was quite amazing and we even used the football field as the portage area during the race.
“The only downfall was the fact that as it is man-made it has concrete sides and as the large waterway is also used for various other transport craft once you get a wash it just continues as there is nowhere for it to dissipate.”
Having grown up in Malaysia and Thailand as a youngster, Chellew said she had forgotten how humid it was.
“I hate the humidity and I forgot how humid it was over there,” she said.
“Due to that I did come away with a severe ear infection.”
It has been a remarkable couple of months for Chellew who showed her well-known fighting capability to overcome a bout of pneumonia five weeks out from the Aussie Masters, with specialists not thinking she would be recovered enough to compete in South Australia but backed that up with more amazing performances.
Described as the best two races she has paddled in a long time, she won gold in both the K1 and K2 at the World Titles.
On both days of competition she was amalgamated in with younger age groups (40+) and finished third overall and first in her age group to be awarded the gold medal.
In the pairs she teamed up with an Australian paddler, Olympian Margaret Buck, who competed at the Tokyo games, which Dianne described as a wonderful experience.
“The first time we had met and was prior to the start and we had 10 minutes practice before the race got under way,” she said.
“She was wonderful to paddle with and it was a real thrill.”
Again amalgamated in with younger age groups (40+) and it took the pairing about a lap (4.7km) to get used to one another’s paddling style.
“We were disadvantaged in the long portage with the weight of the K2, plus both Margaret and I had raced singles the day before and we don’t recover as well as the younger women,” she said.
“We had both already raced 17.2km with four portages.
“It was a great thrill for me to think I was paddling with someone who had been an elite paddler at the Olympics.
“Despite our tiredness in the portages we finished third overall and first in our age group so another gold for both of us.”
And this success has certainly seen the fire in the belly return for Chellew in a year where she has been wracked with illness.
She has made a return to the surf club with her grandkids now in nippers at Gerringong and is eyeing of the various masters competitions (board and ski), with the Surf World Championships to be held in Adelaide next year.
She also aims to return to the World Canoe Marathon Titles next year in Rome and, believe it or not, she is already eyeing off 2014 when the titles will be staged in the United States.
“I am so thrilled with my two gold medals, after the disastrous year that I have had, all my fire and enthusiasm for racing had returned,” she said.