Image Caption: Tom McKenna, with his medal tally display. Image: Lynne Mowbray.
Image below: State MP Chris Gulaptis (l) recently presented Tom with his certificate of recognition from the NSW State Government, for representing NSW in the 2017 Australian Dragon Boat Championships. Image: Contributed.
Tom McKenna of South Grafton has recently been awarded a certificate of recognition from the NSW State Government for representing NSW in the 2017 Australian Dragon Boat Championships.
The Australian Championship event was held at Albury/Wodonga in April and Tom participated in both the 500m and 200m relay events which saw him achieve one gold, one silver and one bronze medal.
These medals only add to the growing number of medals and achievements which Tom has won, throughout his lifetime.
Tom has been involved in Rugby League for most of his life in all aspects of the sport; player, coach and administration. He has coached at both Regional and Queensland Country levels.
In 2004 he worked in a managerial capacity with the Australian Indigenous Rugby League under 21 team, which played Great Britain in Gunnedah.
The great sporting all rounder didn’t stop at rugby league though; he has played A Grade squash and cricket, 1st Grade Rugby Union and also representative hockey.
In 2015 Tom said that he was looking for something else to have a go at, when he saw a ‘call out’ in the local paper, for more Dragon Boat members in the Clarence Valley.
“As a result of taking up that challenge, I’ve had the opportunity to represent my region, State and Australia,” Tom said.
“I’ve been to the State and National Championships and represented my club, State and Australia at the Pan Pacific Games at the Gold Coast last year, bringing home four gold medals.
“I’ve competed in the open division at the Regional State Championships in Penrith in February 2017 and won two gold medals.
“In April this year I won gold, silver and bronze at the Australian Championships and in May I represented NSW at the World Masters Championships, in Auckland NZ and took out two gold and two bronze.”
Since then Tom has paddled in several local regattas on the north coast.
Tom has never looked back since joining the Grafton Dragon Boat Club and now coaches for the club.
“I’ve met so many new friends since becoming involved in Dragon Boats,” Tom Said.
“The friendship and the fraternity are unbelievable – I’m so blessed.”
Tom is looking forward to coaching for the Grafton Club once again at the Kempsey Regatta on October 8 and on October 13 he heads off to Tasmania for the Australian Masters Championships where he will once again represent his State.
Tom said that the Dragon Boat Clubs in the Clarence Valley are always looking for new members and encouraged anyone looking for something different to get involved in, to come along and check it out.
Tom said that the health benefits alone have been wonderful for him and since joining the club in 2015, he has lost 28kg.
“When I joined the club I was looking to form new friendships – and I found it in dragon boating,” Tom said.
“You have so much fun and it has since become a passion of mine.”