HEADSTRONG Warrnam-bool rowing export Kathryn Ross is London-bound having secured a place in the Australian rowing team for the 2012 Paralympics later this year.
It will be Ross’ second-consecutive appearance at the Games, after collecting a silver medal at Beijing in 2008 in the trunk and arms double scull event.
The 30-year-old, who is in Warrnambool for Easter, told The Standard it was as much a mental battle as it was physical to maintain her spot at the top of the sport for the past four years.
“It has been a lot of hard work and a lot of sacrifice to stay ahead of the competition,” she said.
“It takes a lot of mental and physical strength and there’s been a lot of ups and downs, like in any elite sport.
“It’s been a journey.”
Ross described her Paralympics debut as a “whirlwind” experience which was 18 months in the making. But this time has been different.
“It’s a huge personal achievement this time around,” she said.
“This time I’ve had a lot more time to prepare.”
Ross will be striving to go one better this year than her Beijing silver in the same class, but her rowing partner remains a mystery.
John Maclean, who paired with Ross in 2008, is being challenged by newcomer Gavin Bellis for the second seat in the trunk and arms double scull boat.
The final decision will be made after two separate regattas in Italy later this month.
And Ross isn’t playing favourites.
“I just want the fastest partner,” she said.
“It’s starting to get late in the preparation but I trust my coach, Chad King, and his program.”
After Ross’ rowing partner is finalised, the duo will head to London in May to familiarise themselves with the Olympic course.
They will then return to Italy before the World Cup events in Germany in June.
“It will give us an indication of where we are on the world scene,” Ross said.
“We have improved dramatically since we won bronze at the world championships (with Maclean in Slovenia) last year.
“We have changed our technique and equipment and tweaked a few things.”
Ross, who has been training at AquaZone, said she would be competing with her home town in mind.
‘“Hopefully I can do Warrnambool proud,” she said.
“It’s been wonderful having the support in Warrnambool and I am trying to give back what I can.”
Rowing Australia officially announced its team this week, following the conclusion of the 2012 national selection trials in Sydney.
A squad of 56 athletes has been listed across 15 boat classes — 13 Olympic and two Paralympic.