BEFORE Shona Stewart headed to Thailand to represent Australia at the 14th IDBF World Dragon Boat Championships, she said she would love to stand on the podium.
Well that wish came true. And then it came true seven more times as Stewart made a stunning debut as an Australian Auroras representative.
The Bathurst paddler and Sloths Dragon Boating Club member claimed four gold medals and earned another four bronze medals in what she described as a "fabulous experience and awesome racing."
"I absolutely didn't expect that. To be on the podium on day one I was thinking to myself 'Wow are you serious?'," she said.
"I had to remind myself this was a moment that I might never experience again, this wasn't an ordinary regatta, this was the highest you can go in our sport."
Stewart acted as one of Australia's senior B (over 50s) paddlers in Pattaya, Thailand and contested the maximum allowable eight events.
In the small boat women's events, Stewart formed part of a crew of 10. It was a formidable combination.
"Our crew were very dominant and we won every event we were eligible for - two kilometres, 500 metres and 200 metres," she said.
"Standing on the podium with the national anthem playing as the Australian flag was being raised was an extremely emotional experience as it dawned that you are a world champion.
"Another reality check was in my final race of the competition - the small boat women's 200 metres. When we were in marshalling prior to the start and Germany was beside us and the woman standing beside me said they hoped to come second to us as we were so big and strong."
Given Stewart and her fellow senior B Auroras had not just already beaten Germany by 38.85 seconds in the 2km event, but produce an effort which only the New Zealand senior A crew bettered, it was certainly a fitting comment.
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In the women's standard boat 1,000m event, Stewart and 20-strong crew placed third, sharing the podium with those from Canada and the USA.
Her other world championship medals came as part of the standard mixed crew - something she was equally proud of.
"One of my main goals was to try and make a mixed crew and I more than did that," she enthused.
"Because they contested every event and people were chopping and changing, every morning you got your named called out for a mixed event, I was like saying to myself 'oooh good'.
"Being one of the core paddlers in that crew I think was pretty good, particularly for my first ever campaign."
The gold medal came when they nudged out Canada by 0.667 seconds in the 200m event, while they placed third in the 2km, 1,000m and 500m events behind Canada and the United States.