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The Malaga 'dragons', rowing in one direction in the face of cancer

One of the rowing boats, with the lighthouse and cathedral in the background.
One of the rowing boats, with the lighthouse and cathedral in the background. / FRANCIS SILVA
  • The BCS Dragon Boat Club, whose rowers are breast cancer survivors, took part in an event which they hope will become a regular tradition

The ‘dragons’ have just shown once again that the best way to move on is to pull together for a common cause which can bring back smiles and help them to win in life.

Back in 2018 they started off as a group of strangers, but now they are setting an example for thousands of women affected by breast cancer. The ladies, who are competitors with Club Malaga BCS Dragon Boat, and backed by the Royal Mediterranean Club, were back on the water this week for an event which they hope will become a regular tradition: the BCS City of Malaga Fixed Bench Rowing Winter Regatta, which was run by the city council.

Veterans from the Mediterranean Club with BCS competitors.

Veterans from the Mediterranean Club with BCS competitors. / F. SILVA

BCS is short for Breast Cancer Survivor. This is a special rowing category for women who have had or are suffering from this cruel illness and have a medical certificate which says they are fit to compete, based on the premise that this sport will benefit them and help them with their recovery. There are some 200 BCS rowing teams around the world.

This is quite an unusual event and Malaga is a pioneer in Andalucía, thanks to oncologist Julia Ruiz Vozmediano, who is from the Costa del Sol.

Pulling together

Pulling together / F. S.

Two years ago the women started to compete in dragon boat racing; a sport of Chinese origin for 12 or 22 crew members and regulated internationally. Since then there has been growing interest in the initiative. There are currently 37 rowers and a waiting list of others who want to do the same.

Group photo of Malaga Dragon Boat BCS, which is backed by the Royal Mediterranean Club.

Group photo of Malaga Dragon Boat BCS, which is backed by the Royal Mediterranean Club. / FRANCIS SILVA

This week, thanks to La Caixa Foundation, they acquired the first dragon boat of their own, which they will use in the next competitions, and the club took a further step by creating a women’s Mediterranean llaüt regatta, (a traditional vessel in Catalan-speaking areas with eight crew members and a coxwain), in which they competed together with other rowers from the Royal Mediterranean Club. The event was designed for local competitors and a group from the BCS Hispalense Rowing Club. The two best times over a distance of 750m classified for the final.

“This helps to show people that sport is life, that we are able to do it, and that we are competing on equal terms with club veterans. They can see that by doing sport after having cancer, you can live just as well or even better than before,” said the president of the Malaga BCS Dragon Boat, Nikolaja Fiebiger.

This group of women is setting an example and showing that, every day, they feel even stronger.