Chris Dutton May 22, 2012
Olympic rowing hopeful Sarah Cook trains on Lake Burley Griffin. Photo: Graham Tidy
The Australian women's eight will bottle all the frustration and uncertainty of the past three months to chase its Olympic Games dream in Switzerland tomorrow morning.
Canberra rower Sarah Cook is confident the crew can continue ''smashing'' all expectations to book its ticket to London with a victory in the regatta at Lucerne.
After a tumultuous and at times controversial build-up, the team needs to finish in the top two of the final to qualify for the Olympics.
Just three months ago Rowing Australia was refusing to endorse a women's eight crew and Cook and her teammates were left in Olympic limbo.
But with a Games berth within reach, Cook said the drama was being used as extra motivation to make her second Olympic appearance.
''There were a lot of people angry about [Rowing Australia's decision] to not send a women's eight,'' Cook told The Canberra Times from Switzerland.
''It's been in the media, politicians were involved, threats of law cases, blogs and letters and hats off to Rowing Australia for finally opening it up. All we ever wanted was an opportunity.
''There was a lot of uncertainty, but now it's all about us. It's in our control and that's a good place to be, we're the ones deciding our fate.''
Australia's women's eight finished last in the final at the Beijing Games.
After that, Rowing Australia decided it would not send a women's eight to international competition and instead focus on its smaller boats.
Rowing Australia did a u-turn earlier this year to let a crew race at the national trials.
Since then the strength of the boat has increased with athletes missing out on selection in smaller boats and opting to chase a spot on the Australian team in the eight.
Cook raced in Beijing in the pairs with Kim Crow and was hoping to qualify for London in the scull.
But her sole focus now is beating countries including Germany, Ukraine, Belarus and Russia to keep her Olympic aspirations alive.
The team qualified fastest by more than three seconds for the final.
Its Olympic equation is simple - finish in the top two and chase an Olympic medal or lose and return to Australia on Thursday.
''There will be that element of desperation from every crew, the Olympics are on the line,'' Cook said.
''We know everything could end [tomorrow morning], we know this is our one shot. It's a bit of the unknown, we don't know what other boats are capable of and they don't know what we can do.
''This is my ninth year in the national team … we've been in the game long enough to know when something is good and I feel confident about this.''
Meanwhile, ACT Academy of Sport athlete Jared Bidwell will row in the repechages of the men's single scull after finishing fourth in his heat.