Proud mum Mandy Stephan says what her daughter Lucy showed in a gold medal race on the water was what "country kids with big hearts" could achieve.
Lucy Stephan, aged 29, grew up in Nhill - a town with no water for years - and learned to row as a boarder at Ballarat Grammar when Lake Wendouree was dry.
The Stephan family - including mum Mandy, dad Gus and brother Oscar with his girlfriend - watched history unfold in the women's four in Tokyo from the family farm on Wednesday morning.
Mandy just wants to give her daughter a big hug but the tyranny of distance and the pandemic kept the family from being course-side as they have been for other international meets.
But Mandy said the feeling of watching her daughter win gold was simply "amazing".
"We're country people and haven't even got green and gold about the house. We were just hoping the girls would just do their best," Mandy said.
"I went for walks with the dogs this morning but my husband is a different personality, he had his computer and the telly going. We saw the wind and were hoping the girls could just have a good race.
"This is good for rowing, it's good for Ballarat and good for the Wimmera and the Mallee...Country kids do have big hearts, they can row and they can play sports."
Lucy Stephan was issuing orders from the bow seat in a close finish to hold off the Netherlands by .034 seconds to claim gold in an Olympic record time of six minutes, 15.37 seconds.
The Australian four had posted an Olympic best on Sunday to qualify fastest for the final in 6:28.76.
This is the second Olympics for Stephan, a 2009 Ballarat Associated Schools' Head of the Lake winner, who was a late call-up with the women's right in Rio 2016.
"She's a little one, one British commentator described her as diminutive, and has such a big heart," Mandy said. "We're so proud of all the girls. It's been a challenging five years.
"...Annabelle (McIntyre), Jess (Morrison) and Rosie (Popa) are amazing women and Luce is just our Luce.
"Luce went away to school and found rowing and loved the boat. She always says she loves the feel of rowing and being in the boat. She got addicted to the sport.
"She was always wanting to play a sport and you've got to find the one you love."
As the Stephan's family phones started to ring off the hook, they could hardly wait for the call they want most and one Mandy knows will come soon - just to talk to their 'Luce'.
If you are seeing this message you are a loyal digital subscriber to The Courier, as we made this story available only to subscribers. Thank you very much for your support and allowing us to continue telling Ballarat's story. We appreciate your support of journalism in our great city.