Stephan and Werry plot course for Olympic Games in Tokyo

ROAD BEGINS NOW: Lucy Stephan, Katrina Werry, Sarah Hawe and Olympia Aldersey have eyes set on Tokyo. Picture: Rowing Australia
ROAD BEGINS NOW: Lucy Stephan, Katrina Werry, Sarah Hawe and Olympia Aldersey have eyes set on Tokyo. Picture: Rowing Australia

It's been a busy year for Ballarat golden girls Lucy Stephan and Katrina Werry.

The duo's exploits spanned right across Europe in 2019.

After claiming gold at the World Rowing Cup 3 regatta in Rottendam, they were part of the crew which toppled the world's best to win a gold medal at the 2019 World Rowing Championships in the Women's Coxless Fours in Austria.

They were one of three crews from their squad of 25 athletes to qualify a boat for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Stephan, now back in Australia, told The Courier the world titles capped off a remarkable two-year journey which is still in progress.

"We fell a bit short last year in the same event, so to improve on last year is great", she said.

"Over the last 12 months, we've all improved individually and as a crew.

"We had a few challenges with injuries and things like that, so to come out on top was really rewarding."

Stephan and Werry make up a key component of the elite squad which trains full-time at the Hancock Prospecting Women's National Training Centre in Penrith.

The women, both of whom spent time in Ballarat while attending high school, are part of a determined effort to make Australia a force in the women's fours, eights and pairs events.

"We developed a really strong four and eight, and this year we developed a really strong pair as well, and the goal was to qualify all of the boats in the Olympics," Werry said.

"So we now don't really have a top boat but instead, we made sure all of them are at a top standard."

The Ballarat women have been mainstays in the coxless fours over the last three years in a crew that's included Sarah Hawe and Olympia Aldersey, who is a world record holder in the women's double scull.

Despite the success they've enjoyed together, Werry said no spots are yet guaranteed for Tokyo.

"Even though we've qualified the boat for the Olympics we need to wait another four or five months before we find out what boat we'll be placed in," she said.

"The four would be great but so would the eight or the pair. We are such a strong squad it doesn't really matter."

One thing is for sure the women said - come Tokyo, they don't want to just medal - they have every intention of winning.

"We are in the situation where we are one of the most successful countries in women's rowing right now and ideally we want to be winning medals in all three boats," Werry said.

"We know we are a strong squad and we've got it in us.

"For us it's not about going to the Olympics - it's about winning a medal."

Stephan and Werry will have a break over Christmas before returning to Penrith in January.

They will travel to Europe early in the new year to compete in a World Rowing Cup event before Olympic trials begin.

"To be so close makes me excited to be part of such a hard-working squad," Werry said.

This story Work far from over for Ballarat's golden girls in Olympic quest first appeared on The Courier.