Ballarat is set to welcome over 700 athletes to Lake Wendouree when the four-day Australian Masters Rowing Championships starts on Thursday.
Entrants from all over Australia will represent their respective clubs and states at the Masters as four of Ballarat's own rowers will represent Victoria in Saturday's interstate events.
Rebecca Gribble and Leanne Martin, both Wendouree Ballarat Rowing Club members, will compete alongside Ballarat City Rowing Club's Andrew Leehane and Kathy Lloyd after successfully qualifying at the recent state championships in Nagambie.
The Masters will feature 355 races across nearly 200 events and is expected to bring thousands of people to Ballarat over the four-day event.
"This event will be massive for Ballarat, it's good competition and it is bringing some of the best rowers in Australia to Ballarat," Leehane said.
"It's really great to have these championships come to Ballarat because now people can see what we do."
Leehane has been training non-stop for the opportunity to represent Victoria at the Masters.
"I've nearly made the state quad three times now and in my fourth attempt I've qualified for the eight," he said.
"Being able to represent Victoria is a really proud moment for me."
After a 30 year break from rowing Leehane is loving life back in the boat at Ballarat City Rowing Club.
"It's a very special event, it's awesome being a part of the rowing community."
"It's game on when we are racing but after the race it is social and just a nice place to be."
Leehane recently won a bronze medal at the state championships alongside Wendouree Ballarat rower Rebecca Gribble, who will line up alongside Leehane again on the weekend.
Despite only returning to rowing in the past year, Gribble will feature in 10 events over the four-day stretch after training incredibly hard to get to this stage.
"I've been leaving Ballarat at 3.45am to train in Melbourne which has certainly been a big commitment, but to make the state team has made it worth it," Gribble said.
"We have had to do ergo tests and compete at regattas as well as boat trials to get here."
88 clubs from around Australia will be competing at the Masters with 32 athletes from Wendouree Ballarat Rowing Club and Ballarat City Rowing Club featuring over the four days.
"We are going head to head with some of the best in Australia," Gribble said
"Considering we only have two clubs, to have four rowers representing Victoria in the Masters is a big achievement," she said.
Gribble's club, Wendouree Ballarat, will feature in 20 events over the four days as Leehane's Ballarat City will race in 30 events.
The Masters begin at 9.30am on Thursday and continue through to 4pm on Sunday, but the interstate events in which the four rowers have qualified for will all be on Saturday.
Lloyd, Martin, Leehane and Gribble will represent Victoria in three interstate events on Saturday.
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