KATHRYN Ross is looking forward to a home-town celebration after winning gold at the world rowing championships in Korea.
The Warrnambool para-rower teamed with Melbourne’s Gavin Bellis to score an upset victory in the trunk and arms mixed double scull in Chungju on Wednesday.
The triumph was Ross’ first at either world championships or Paralympics, with her best performance before the win being silver at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
Her best world championships results were bronze in 2010 and 2011.
“It’s the most enjoyable race I have ever had,” Ross said.
“The conditions were challenging, we weren’t expected to win but everything aligned.
“It was an absolutely amazing feeling. I’m still dumbfounded.”
Ross said her celebrations had been low-key, exhausted by three consecutive days of racing in humid conditions. With her Australian teammates still competing, she was in bed by 9pm, delaying the party until Sunday when the championships finish.
She intends returning to Warrnambool within the next month to catch up with family and friends.
Ross and Bellis, who were fifth at the London Olympics, entered the championships on a limited preparation.
It was their first international event since the Olympics where Bellis bravely competed with a biceps injury.
“It’s a bit surreal, I’m still pinching myself, “ Ross said as she enjoyed her new position on top of the world.
“It was totally not expected. We were definitely the underdog coming in here.
‘‘It was our first race on the world stage since London and we had no idea where we were at.”
She said Bellis had battled an arm injury early in the year, reducing their training.
They were beaten by a French crew in a heat on Tuesday by 0.4 of a second but they were excited about that performance.
“I was quite nervous because I had no idea where we were at but we had a really good heat,” she said.
“It made us a bit more relaxed.”
Ross and Bellis stunned rivals and spectators by surging clear of the field just 250 metres into the race.
It was a championship-winning tactic, as the hot favourite France failed to reel them in.
“We were just hanging on by the skin of our teeth. We just kept pushing,” she said.
The 32-year-old said the London disappointment had driven her.
“I had trained solidly for four years and going in with Gavin’s injury with a torn bicep, no one knew he had done that six weeks before,” she said.
“We did well just to make the final there but you are never pleased not winning a medal at world champs or the Paralympics.
“We feel we are back now.”