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History of ABOL

The people, the past

The first breast-cancer team to be formed in New Zealand was Busting with Life, established in Auckland by former Olympic champion Paul McDonald. He along with Ian Ferguson then put out a challenge to form a team of breast cancer survivors in Christchurch. 

Dave Sloss the manager of the Lynwood rugby club contacted the local Cancer Society and in April 1999 he presented the idea to a meeting of the cancer survivors New Beginning Support Group. This was enthusiastically received by those attending and on 15th of August 1999 the group began the exercise regime with Sunday morning walks around Hagley Park. 

Following an article in The Press more support came about and on September 7, 1999 Abreast of Life Dragon boat team was officially launched at the Lancaster Hotel with coverage from local television station CHTV. 

The team trained on the Avon River and on the Littleton Harbour.. 

The coaching staff changed over the years with Andy Phillips coming on board. There was much media coverage being achieved in local papers, the Christchurch Star and The Press. 

The team has continued to grow over the years and has become a very competitive team, winning national championships in all categories being the 200m 500m and 2K races. 

The team has had a number of coaches over the years and is continually looking to how they can strive to be more competitive at every level. 

We have also competed internationally representing our team at International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) Club Crew World Championships in 2016 and 2018 and have also attended International Breast Cancer Paddlers Commission (IBCPC) festivals in 2018 and 2023. 

We believe that every person has an opportunity to reclaim their life post a diagnosis of breast cancer and to be a part of this incredible adventure of dragon boat paddling that exists not just in Christchurch, but New Zealand, and across the globe. 

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