WARRNAMBOOL rower Kathryn Ross has strengthened her Paralympics hopes with victory in a lead-up event to the London Games.
Ross and Paralympics rowing partner Gavin Bellis clinched victory in the trunk-and-arms mixed double scull at the World Rowing Cup III, in Munich, Germany.
The new pairing trailed France’s Perle Bouge and Stephane Tardieu halfway into the 1000-metre race.
But they finished strongly to win in four minutes, 10.34 seconds — 0.69 seconds ahead of the French pairing.
Ross, who returned to Australia yesterday, said the result was exciting because it hinted at bigger things when the Games began in late August.
“We’re definitely talking about it. It’s exciting knowing where we’re at leading into London and how much more we can improve,” she said.
“With Gavin being so new and us new as a combination, there’s so much more we can work on and improve on.”
Leading international crews used the Munich event to gauge where they ranked ahead of the Paralympics.
Ross and Bellis changed from a Wintech to Filippi boat and used new oars for the weekend, which meant their races were “trial and error”.
They planned to go out hard with the hope to stay with the powerful French pair, but had no thoughts of winning.
“They were ahead of us pretty much from the start. I could see them slipping away but they went out really hard and we stuck with them,” Ross said.
“Our plan was to go out as hard as we could, as if we were racing the Paralympic finals, and give it our all.
“We kept chipping away and they fell apart, basically.
“We were able to maintain what we were doing and fly past them.”
The win in Munich marks another milestone as the new pairing prepares to go one better than the silver medal Ross won in Beijing in 2008.
Ross is in Warrnambool until this weekend, when she flies to Canberra to begin a six-week training bloc.
She will then return to the European Centre of Excellence, at Gavirate, Italy, a month out from the Games.
“You’ve got to be careful that when you go away things don’t become stale,” she said.
Meanwhile, former Warrnambool swimming coach Brad Harris will feature in a documentary profiling leading Olympics and Paralympics hopefuls tonight.
The documentary, on ABC1 at 8pm, features swimmer Ahmed Kelly, who was born without lower arms or legs. Harris coaches Kelly at Vicentre Swimming Club.