Dragon boating is a team sport that originated in China but now has competitions all over the world. It takes incredible strength and perfect rhythm to move the heavy boat. Many professional competitors are in their 20s. are these women in their 40s. are these women in their 40s. The small town of Jiujiang in southern China is home to the world’s top women’s dragon boating team. Dong Aili has been dragon boating professionally for the past 10 years. And at age 43, she still trains six full days a week. When the local team came together 12 years ago, it was a motley crew of middle-aged farmers and factory workers. But they have since gone on to win multiple world championships. Last year, they even won a gold and silver medal at the Asian Games, one of the highest levels of competition for the sport. For Dong and her teammates, who spent most of their lives in this little town, competing was the first time they had traveled outside the province. The team can owe much of their success to growing up around water. The town’s name, Jiujiang, literally means “nine rivers,” and it used to be connected by waterways when Dong was a kid. But now, its rivers and fish ponds have been filled to make way for highways and factories. Dong’s father was a dragon boat enthusiast, and she would watch him paddle during the annual Dragon Boat Festival. The festival, still celebrated across China today, comes from a story 2,000 years ago, when a popular government official threw himself into a river because he had lost the king’s favor. Local fishermen raced to recover his body while banging drums to chase away any fish that might devour it. This formed the basis of the dragon boat races that still continue today. Despite their success and ground-breaking work, the older members are gradually being replaced by young blood. Dong is one of the four middle-aged women left in the 45-member team, and she plans to retire later this year. Hey guys, thank you for watching. We’re always on the road in China chasing stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Stay tuned, check out our other content and don’t forget to subscribe to Goldthread. Food’s ready, I’m going to eat. Bye.