After being selected in the Australian Universities Rowing Team in early May, we commenced training from the Riverview boatshed alongside the WUG Women?s four. Unfortunately my selected partner in the double withdrew after 6 weeks and I was left to train on in the single. Sadly as my single scull was lost in the SUBC fire earlier in the year I was training in borrowed equipment. However, through the generosity of the rowing community I was never without a boat. We left Australia on 31st July for Scotland to compete at the Commonwealth Regatta held at Strathclyde, Glasgow. I had some mixed results in Scotland, placing 5th in the open single scull and 4th in the lightweight single scull. The regatta provided a good warm up for our main competition and was also a fantastic experience as we were representing Australia as a senior team.

We then traveled to Trakai, Lithuania, were the World University Championships were held. The setting for the regatta was beautiful, with a castle right next to the rowing course! We arrived early enough to be able to have a few days training on the lake prior to the beginning of competition.

The first day of racing was a big day. I started off in the first race of the day in my heat, where I placed 2nd behind the Czech girl by about 3 seconds. Off to the repercharge! The repecharge was held that afternoon, and I had to place in the top four in order to go through. My plan was just to make it through the repecharge on as little effort as possible, in order to decrease my recovery time from the day. Third in the reperchage was enough and gained me a place in the A final.

That night, the opening ceremony of the regatta was held, and I was nominated by the coaches to be the Australian team flag bearer. It was a great honor to be given this duty, and I was very proud to be carrying the flag for Australia.

The day of the final came around, and I was feeling a little nervous, particularly as I was the only Australian to make an A final, so everyone was coming out to watch me. I went into the race thinking that if I could manage to medal in this race then I would be very happy. The opposition looked very tough. Nachazelova (Czech) was world under 23 lwt single champion in 2004 and in the Czech lwt weight quad for the world Camps at Eton, Albecht (Swiss) had been 5th and 6th in the A final of the World Cup in Munich and Lucerne this year and the Dutch sculler was in the A final of the lwt U23 single 2006

We were the first race of the day and the start was held for a long time ? I realised they were having trouble aligning us because my boat was so short that the boat holders couldn?t reach far enough! But they eventually got us started, about 10 minutes late, into a nice head wind. I can honestly say that my start in that race was the best I have ever done ? normally I come out last, but I looked over after about 100m and I was in front. After 500m I was still in the lead, and starting to worry a little that maybe I?d overdone it. But I pushed on, trying to gain as much of a lead as I could. I managed to stay out the front for the rest of the race and finished about 5 seconds in front of 2nd place. The other place getters where Czech Republic (2nd) and Switzerland (3rd).

The whole trip was just fantastic ? not only did I have a good time at the competitions, but the other members of the Australian team were all really fun and friendly, making the trip that much better. I have gained a lot of experience from this trip and had a fun time . Now I am back in training at Riverview and trying to raise money to replace my single!

Elsa O?Hanlon.