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27 February 2020
By LOTTE REITER
It was a case of ‘second time’s a charm’ for Nhill rowing export Lucy Stephan after taking out female athlete of the year at the annual Victorian Sports Awards.
The two-time world champion was a finalist at the Melbourne event for the second year in a row after missing out on the 2019 award to Hamilton-born table tennis player Melissa Tapper.
Stephan's accolade was one of 18 up for grabs at the event, which recognises and celebrates the achievements of individuals and team athletes, coaches, administrators and volunteers from metropolitan and regional Victoria.
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Stephan is training in Penrith, New South Wales, preparing for selection trials in two days for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
As a result, she was unable to attend the awards ceremony on Wednesday, but told The Weekly Advertiser she was ‘pretty stoked’ to hear from afar that she had been successful.
“I think this year was exactly the same as last year in that I was up against some incredibly talented women, so I’m pretty stoked to have won,” she said.
“I had my youth pair partner and best friend collect the award for me.
“I’ve had a pretty long rowing career so there have been a lot of people who have been important to me, including Rowing Victoria, AIS, VIS, my parents and my family.
“From here it’s the Olympic trials in two days, then teams are selected to compete at the World Cup before they take a final look at how well we’ve gone to see who will compete at the Olympics.”
Stephan, who grew up at Nhill before attending boarding school in Ballarat where she started rowing, said she always tried to keep her eyes on the ‘next step’ in her career.
It is a philosophy that has seen her represent Australia at the 2016 Rio Olympics as part of the women’s eight team, as well as the Australian women’s four at the past three World Rowing Championships.
She said that while she was up against more than 25 women to earn a spot at the 2020 Olympic Games, she was confident she was in the best position possible to make the team.
“I’ll keep training with intent,” she said.
“For me, it’s just about concentrating on what I can do and the best me I can be, and if that happens to be competing at the Olympics this year then that’s great. If not, I’ll still continue to strive to be my best.”
The Victorian Sport Awards is the night of nights for the Victorian sporting community, recognising and celebrating the achievements of home-grown premier athletes, grassroots heroes and those who have shown commitment and dedication to community sport in Victoria.