As Lucy Stephan stood on the podium, an Olympic gold medal draped around her neck, those days spent learning to row on Lake Wendouree all became worth it.
She found the sport as a teenager at Ballarat Grammar School, leaving her native Nhill in order to climb rowing's ranks.
World rowing championships gold medals were a sign of an athlete at the top, but it was at a crowdless waterway in Tokyo where she truly entered the record books.
On Wednesday afternoon, Stephan and her Australian teammates made history as the first coxless women's four Olympic gold medallists in almost 30 years.
Ballarat - a city with such a proud rowing history - celebrated its first Olympic gold medallist in the sport.
"I think it's still a bit surreal, I can't believe it's actually happened," Stephan said.
"I think you kind of expect when you go do this, you've thought about it for so long, that you're going to feel like a new woman, but I'm just the same old Luce. Just soaking it up."
It wasn't easy going for Stephan and crewmates Rosemary Popa, Jessica Morrison and Annabelle McIntyre.
The Australians entered the final as favourites having posted an Olympic-best time in their heat, and enjoyed strong start to the race.
A slender lead at the 500 metre mark blew out to a three-quarter-of-a-boat margin come the 1000 metre point.
The country was on the edge with 500 metres to go as the Australians found themselves in a fight.
Stephan's crew was 1.37 seconds in front at the 1500 mark, with the Netherlands pushing to draw level.
"Lucy Stephan in bow will see the boat beside her. No-one passes Lucy," was the last motivating cry from Channel 7's rowing commentator Nick Green.
No-one did pass Lucy, Australia holding on by 0.47 seconds to claim gold and start a remarkable hour in the country's rowing history.
The women's four win was immediately followed by a gold medal in the men's four. Bronze medal wins in the men's and women's quadruple sculls closed an unforgettable 60 minutes.
"It would have been incredible to have my family, my partner and my loved ones around but we're here as a team," Stephan told ABC.
"Obviously four medals, two bronze and two gold, is pretty incredible and to be a part of that history I don't think I could wish for anymore."
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