In sporting terms, Crookwell's Brooke Pratley was a very late bloomer.
While most athletes begin the sports in which they excel as children or teens, it was not until she was 22 that Pratley first picked up an oar.
But almost immediately, Pratley's affinity for rowing was clear. Her natural aptitude for the sport was no doubt in part due to her physicality - at six foot three, with long limbs and sinewy power, she was uniquely suited to it.
In just four years, Pratley made good on her potential with a gold medal effort at the Rowing World Championships in Eton.
Partnered with fellow New South Welshman, Elizabeth Kell, Pratley edged out the German duo of Britta Oppelt and Susanne Schmidt by a third of a second in the women's double sculls division.
After a fourth-place effort in the women's quad sculls at the 2007 World Championships, Pratley qualified for the 2008 Beijing Olympics as part of the women's sweep rowing team.
This campaign would prove to be one of the definitive moments in Pratley's career.
A promising campaign in Beijing concluded with a disappointing last-place finish for Australia in the finals.
Two years later, Pratley returned to the scull as part of Australia's quad team alongside Sally Kehoe, Kerry Hore, and, fortuitously, Kim Crow.
In the years leading up to the 2012 London Olympics, the Australian sculling teams morphed through a number of different iterations and partnerships.
By March of 2012, Pratley and Crow combined for the first time in the double scull at the World Rowing Cup III in Munich, which was the birth of the most successful partnership of the former's career.
After the pair won their heat in London and qualified straight through to the final, Pratley said Crow's influence inspired her.
"Have you seen the Avengers when Thor throws lightning bolts at Iron Man, it just makes him stronger? That's kind of like Kim in racing and training," she said.
"She just handles a massive volume of training and she can handle racing - it will be very good for both of us."
The Olympic Women's Double Sculls final, scheduled for Friday, August 3, was expected to be a race of two teams.
The Australian duo's only serious competitors were the British team of Anna Watkins and Katherine Grainger, who were the fastest qualifiers with a time of 6:44.33 - four seconds quicker than Pratley and Crow in second.
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The Australians knew they needed to produce their best form for a chance of winning the final, but Pratley said the pair were confident in the lead-up and "certainly won't be nervous on Friday".
Once the race started, Australia and Britain shot ahead of their competitors. By the halfway point, the home side were 1.41 seconds in front, but struggling to make significant gains.
It was too little, too late for Pratley and Crow, however, who could not recover the lost ground and fell to another narrow defeat at the hands of Watkins and Grainger.
The dominance of the first two teams across the line was underlined by the margin between the silver and bronze medal-winners. After the Australians, the Polish team of Magdalena Fularczyk and Julia Michalska finished in third, trailing by a whopping 9.37 seconds.
Pratley was thrilled with her result in London. Not only had she put forward the kind of performance which her talent had long promised, but she put to bed the demons which had haunted her since Beijing in 2008.
"We had a disappointing result with the women's eight in Beijing," Pratley told AAP.
"This time round ... we've really stepped up in terms of how we've managed ourselves and I couldn't have asked for a better season with my coach (Lyall McCarthy) and my partner Kim - it's been an absolute dream run.
"I've been very privileged to work with both of them.
"I'm just so proud, not just of what we've achieved but how we've conducted ourselves throughout the season and how we pushed on through me having significant injuries and Kim managing two boats.
"It really has just been a dream run."
Pratley was also overwhelmed by the amount of support she received during the year from Crookwell residents.
Ahead of the Olympic campaign, Crookwell staged a fundraiser for the local athletes who had been named in Australian squads.
Alongside Glenn Turner, Emily Smith (now Chalker), and Kellie White, Pratley received a share of the $15,000 raised on the night.
"The support from Crookwell has been phenomenal, I'm actually a bit embarrassed by it," Pratley said.
Immediately after the final, she announced her retirement from the sport.
In just ten years, Pratley had gone from a country girl who had never rowed competitively to one of Australia's brightest stars in the sport.
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