THEY'VE collected a bronze medal at the World Rowing Championships after only eight months of training together - just imagine what Kathryn Ross and new partner Grant Bailey could do with another 20 months together.
The duo have set a strong foundation for the 2012 London Paralympic Games after claiming bronze yesterday in a heart-stopping final at the world titles on Lake Karapiro, New Zealand.
Favourite Ukraine cruised to a four-second victory.
However, a photo finish was required to separate the next three boats: France, Australia and Brazil.
Ross and Bailey were .11 of a second from silver, which was snatched by the French.
Brazil missed out on a podium finish by .18 of a second. "I think this means a bit more (compared to other achievements) because it was so tight," Ross told The Standard yesterday.
"This level of competition just keeps growing.
"It gets tighter and tighter.
"It also feels like such a big achievement because rowing with Grant is still very new.
“Now we understand what we’re capable of.
“I think we’re both a lot more confident to push further.”
The pair were in the fifth lane and finished the one-kilometre mixed double scull trunk and arms race, which saw competitors contest a slight headwind, in a time of 4:28.16.
Ross explained they successfully tweaked their race approach from the heat and repechage.
“The game plan is usually to go out there and set a good rhythm, then start pushing,” Ross said.
“I mentioned to the coach that I thought we needed to really push from the start.
“It kind of worked for us, which was good.”
Australia was fourth at the 500-metre mark behind Ukraine, Brazil and France.
“We knew we had a bit of work to do but we stuck to our race plan,” Ross said.
“I just gave a few key words to Grant and the boat seemed to start to surge.
“We put everything we had left in it. We were absolutely stoked with the result.”
Ross said she was extremely proud of Bailey, particularly because the duo only came together in April.
“To pick up a bronze medal is amazing,” Bailey said.
“It was really close on the way into the line and we just timed our run well enough to pick up a medal.”
Ross will enjoy a fortnight out of the boat, which will include a visit to Warrnambool next week.
When she returns to training, her and Bailey will be focused on the 2011 World Rowing Championships trials, which are in April.
Fellow Warrnambool export Tommy Bertrand is also hoping to return to Australia with a medal.
He is part of the lightweight eight crew, which has earned a central lane in Sunday’s final.
It will be run at 12.33pm (AEST).