NHILL rowing sensation Lucy Stephan is Victoria's Female Athlete of the Year for 2019.
The 28-year-old was announced as the winner of the Vicsport award on Wednesday night, pipping other nominees international netballer Liz Watson, freestyle skier Jakara Anthony and world billiards champion Anna Lynch.
Stephan said she was proud to be honoured by the region she grew up in.
"I'm a very proud Victorian, so it's great to be recognised by your home state," she said. "I'm also a proud born-and-bred Nhill resident, and I take a lot of pride in where I come from. It's definitely made me who I am today.
"I live in New South Wales now and I don't get to go home as much as I'd like, so to get the recognition of the state I grew up in, I take a lot of pride in that."
It was a remarkable year for Stephan, highlighted by a gold medal with Australia's coxless four team at the World Rowing Championships in August.
Stephan however felt that the award was acknowledgement for more than just one year of her exceptional career.
"It was a bit unexpected - obviously I was up against some pretty incredible athletes," Stephan said.
"I had a good year winning at the World Champs a year out from the Olympics, and I've worked really hard.
"But I feel like it wasn't so much what I've achieved this year, but more what I've done over the past 10 years of rowing. For me, it's an accumulation of what I've achieved, not so much just what I've done this year.
"I'm very honoured to have received it, and to be up there with some other awesome athletes who have won it previously."
Stephan became just the second rower to win the award, joining one of her idols Kim Brennan, who has won the award on three occasions.
Stephan said it was a "huge honour" to join the Olympic gold medalist on the honour board.
"For me, it's sort of incredible to realise that I'm in that same sort of space as someone like her," Stephan said.
"I don't feel that way - I don't feel like I am at that level at all, but with something like this you realise maybe you are kind of like them.
"It's a funny feeling."
Stephan missed the awards ceremony due to an intense training schedule in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
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