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Five minutes with 2019 Para Athlete of the Year Kathryn Ross

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“…I love the comradery, how it makes you feel. The challenge both physically and mentally that it presents and how it pushes personal boundaries.”

This is how athlete Kathryn Ross describes her enduring love of sport. It’s perhaps unsurprising then that she sampled shooting, badminton, ocean swimming, indoor netball and speedway racing before settling on rowing.

Having scooped Para Athlete of the Year at the 2019 CBR Sport Awards, Kathryn says that it was “an honour” to be recognised for her achievements.

However, she adds that the award “did not come without the hard work”, giving a huge shout out to her support crew, including her family, friends, coaching staff, partner, Rowing ACT, ACT Academy of Sport, Rowing Australia and supporters.

Its this recognition that the CBR Sport Awards will deliver to a new batch of winners this year—and nominations are still open until Monday 2 November.

In celebration of the recognition that these awards give our deserving sporting community, we caught up with Kathryn to talk about how she tackled the challenges of 2020 when it came to her training, Toyko 2021 and why you should nominate someone for the 2020 CBR Sports Awards.

Tell us about your sporting career and experiences so far—how has the Canberra community shaped them?

Having had an accident at the age of two I lived with damage to my right leg which often meant I was not included in sports. I was very stubborn and determined to live life to my full potential, so I focused my energy to achieve success in the areas of life I wanted too. A big interest of mine was sports.

I have been rowing for 13 years. Within a year, I was identified through a talent search program within the Paralympics Australia. With a lot of hard work and determination, I was selected to be a part of the national rowing team within less than a year.

Since then, I have continued to grow in my rowing journey and am now a 4-time world champion, 3-time Paralympian, multi-national champion along with successfully attaining a silver medal at the Beijing Olympics.

I haven’t always trained and lived in Canberra, but Canberra has become my home. I have been in Canberra for 10 years and have set up my roots here. I enjoy being a part of the community and find the support with my rowing endeavours remarkable. Canberra is a very welcoming city with great opportunity [and a] small-town vibe.

What have the various challenges of 2020 meant for your sporting career and training?

2020 brought with it challenges that no one could have expected. Starting with the smoke hazards in January restricting the safe ability to row and train outside.

The COVID-19 nation-wide shutdown meant all training was moved to individual homes and there was no ability to row on the lake for four months. This imposed its obvious challenges.

Before the shutdown, I was selected into the national team for Tokyo 2020 and with Tokyo being postponed meant we now all are in hope of qualifying for the Tokyo 2021 games.

The mental challenges of being able to self-motivate while coping with the environment thrust upon us was very challenging.

2019 Para Athlete of the Year award winner Kathryn Ross pictured receiving her award from Michael Milton OAM.

What does the future hold? What are you currently training for?

Due to the postponement of the Olympic and Paralympic 2020 games, I now have to re-qualify for 2021. My current focus is ensuring I am selected on the national team and make Tokyo 2020 (2021).

I need to stay fit and healthy to keep up my strength to ensure I can qualify. I am also looking to further my nursing career. Currently, I’m an emergency nurse and would like to further myself there.

What would you say to people who may choose to nominate an individual for the 2020 CBR Sport Awards?

Go for it. It will mean a lot to the person nominated as being recognised for your achievements have long-lasting effects and a lot of hard work goes on that people don’t see.

Kathryn Ross pictured with other award winners at the 2019 CBR Sport Awards.

Nominate someone for the 2020 CBR Sports Awards at cbrsportawards.com.au

Nominations close 2 November 2020

Feature image: Kathryn Ross in action at the 2019 World Rowing Championships in Austria

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