Long Beach resident Jacquewyn Chambers-Martin was one of the Southern California paddlers who was a part of the Team USA Senior 'C' national team, which competed in the International Dragon Boat Federation's (IDBF) World Championships, and brought home gold.
The Team of paddlers with a minimum of 60 years of age is made up of some of the nation’s most experienced paddlers who have competed at international level. They concluded international racing in Pattaya, Thailand, this past August, with a surprising dominance, not only in their age division, but in medal wins for the entire United States national team.
The division medal count put the U.S. in third place for total medal counts, with the majority contribution in gold medals; winning 11 of the 17 gold.
As a college student in Washington D.C., Chambers-Martin worked as lifeguard at the Watergate, and early mornings were used for rowing on the Potomac. Many years later, as a divorced mother of two, she returned to her love of the water by joining the Kahakai Outrigger Canoe Club that meets at Mother’s Beach on Appian Way in Long Beach.
From outriggers, she moved to Dragon Boats, where she became extremely competitive.
The national team was selected in January, and Chambers-Martin committed to crunching erg numbers, weight control, fitness, and climate adaptation — where Floridians merely exercised in the humidity of their state, Chambers-Martin sat in saunas on very hot summer days to acclimate to exerting in the anticipated humidity conditions of Pattaya.
Regarding her long term passion to win Chambers-Martin said, “I do remember desiring winning that gold medal for 14 years — from 2005 to 2019 — how I so strongly pined to stand on top of that middle podium, bow my head down to receive the gold medal, and then stand to my country's flag and national anthem.”
She continued, “I did not know what kind of emotion I'd express at that time — if I'd cry, sob, or just stay simply composed. When our women's crew won the first race — the 1000m — the reality of the gold medal was finally there. When we walked to the podium holding our flag, it was such a proud moment.
"Once I got in the position where I would stand, the elation and love I had for every one of these women who made this moment happen was overwhelming. I did not anticipate that aspect in my visualizations. I could not control the tears and so was glad I brought my sun glasses, which helped me keep it all under control to some degree.”
This experience would happen again and again throughout the four days of competition. On the last day — the last race of the event for the Senior division, the final heat was against Australia, Canada, and the U.S. women. The team captain, who had been stroking throughout the races, was at the drum to call on the 500m race, queried the team regarding their energy.
According to Chambers-Martin “We assured her we had the enough gas to call for finish at the last 150 meters rather than the prior 100 meters. The prior run put us 3 tenths in front of Australia, and almost a second in front of Canada. We wanted an earlier call for "finish now!" — requiring a building rate speed to the finish.
She continued, “Our coach called it at 150 meters to finish. At the finish line, we had left Australia 3 whole seconds behind and Canada almost 4 seconds behind. It was a sweet way of bookending the era of the Senior C national team in Pattaya with gold. For me, it was not just one gold medal, but six. It was also a family of paddlers who will always be more golden to me than gold medals.”