WHEN Rachel Lovell ended a five-year retirement two years ago, she only ever had one goal in mind - winning a London Olympics gold medal.
The Buderim paddler - a mother of two young boys who is about to celebrate her 34rd birthday - moved a step closer yesterday to realising that dream after being part of the K4 500m crew that comfortably won the final at the national sprint championships in Penrith.
It now seems certain that Lovell has booked a spot on the Australian team for the 2012 Games.
For the English-born former Londoner, representing her adopted homeland in the Old Dart would be reward for extreme effort and determination after injury and pregnancy ended any chance she had of competing at the Athens and Beijing Olympics.
What's more, her crew would be a real medal chance.
After a very limited preparation, it placed fifth in the K4 500 at the world titles in Turkey in August last year.
But standing atop the podium is all Lovell is thinking about.
"You've got to set your goal on that gold," she said.
"If you don't set your goal on it, you're never going to get it."
Lovell and her teammates, South Australia's Hannah Davis, NSW's Jo Brigden Jones and Queensland's Lyndsie Fogarty, were the hot favourites to win yesterday's race, which doubled as the second Olympic nomination trial.
They won the first trial at the recent Oceania championships.
"It's pretty much done and dusted," said Lovell, who became an Australian citizen in 2009.
"I think that's it now (we've made the Olympic team). I don't think anything will change that."
Yesterday's winning margin was 3.80 seconds. Two fellow Coast paddlers, Hailey McGinty and Alyce Burnett, were members of the runner-up crew.
Burnett will compete in the K1 1000 today.
Lovell predicted her crew would only get faster.
"It's a very, very new crew, so we're still developing … for us to pull out the results we have and the times we've been doing is pretty amazing for a crew that's been together a few months," she said.
"Our result at the world championships was achieved after doing five weeks of training, which is nothing.
"We're racing against crews that have been together five years, maybe more.
"We're pretty excited about what this boat can actually do."
An Australian Canoeing spokesman said Lovell's crew had met the nomination criteria for London and "essentially Rachel will make the K4 500m (team)".
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.