Three Nova Scotia paddlers with the Dartmouth's Dragon Boat East will be returning home from the world championships held in China with gold medals.

The 13th annual World Nations Dragon Boat Championship was held this past week in Kunming and it ended Sunday. Through five days of competition, Canada won a total of 67 gold medals, 36 silver medals and 13 bronze medals.

"It was an amazing experience. Canada did very well at these world championships. My division which is the seniors division basically swept the field," said Deborah Woolway, a former CBC producer who is also a member of Canada's Senior C team.

Dragon Boat racing

Deborah Woolway snapped this photo of dragon boat teams waiting to approach the start line. (Deborah Woolway)

Woolway, along with David Gallant and Jan Houseman, were coached by Albert McDonald — a co-founder of Dragon Boat East based at Lake Banook.

Woolway, who is coming home with five medals, said she only started dragon boat racing five years ago and this was her first time competing at such a high level internationally.

"We would not be here without [McDonald's] encouragement, his support, the training regime he laid out for us and the support of all our teammates on Lake Banook as well," she said in a phone interview.

"If he can make a world champion out of me in five years, he can work wonders."

'A stirring thing to be a part of'

The tournament "was kind of like the Olympics of dragon boating," Woolway said.

"There's huge podium presentations and the national flags are raised and you're given medals and flowers. It's quite a stirring thing to be a part of when I never thought I would be," she said.

"The Chinese put on an opening and closing ceremony that was quite extraordinary in terms of its colour and it's just explosions of lights and colour and athleticism and music so it was very enjoyable to take part in as an athlete."

Once she arrives back in Canada, Woolway said she plans to take a two-week hiatus from the sport.

"Having had this experience it was so thrilling, I'm all fired up to do it again but I wouldn't commit right now. I need a break," she said.