Rosie Payne hopes her battle to return to rowing culminates in Robert Gordon University retaining the Aberdeen Boat Race crown.
The 18-year-old communication design student took a year out from the sport, but will be part of the RGU crew on Saturday as they take on the University of Aberdeen for the 24th time.
Rosie has rowed for eight years, but a diagnosis of hypermobility syndrome forced the oars out of her hands.
She said: “My joints aren’t working properly and my hip and back get affected by it quite a lot.
“I have to be careful what I do at training in case something goes wrong again.
“It’s a continuing problem I deal with 24/7.
“It’s probably not going to go away, but you keep going because you love the sport.”
Rosie, who originally hails from Cupar in Fife, has also lived in England, New Zealand and Glasgow.
She has been back rowing for five months after learning to train around her condition and said: “I take anti-inflammatories all the time. I have to make sure I do, otherwise it’ll flare up and then I’ll have to stop training for a couple of days and let it settle down again.
“It’s very stop-start, but it’s the way I have to do it.
“There’s pain all the time when I’m rowing and in general as well.
“It will hopefully get better eventually.
“It’s been five months since I’ve been back.
“I just got a personal best for 2km. It was amazing – I was almost in tears.
“Our coaches are really good at sitting with everyone and giving them their own goals.
“It was a bit of a shock how much I’ve come on.”
Rosie says hitting targets and being written off have helped keep her going and she hopes she’s peaking at the right time to drive RGU to their seventh victory in eight years over the course from the Bridge of Dee to Aberdeen Boat Club.
Rosie said: “Hitting targets keeps you motivated, and people saying you’re not going to get there.
“You keep going to prove something to other people.”
“Hopefully I’m peaking at the right time, but it should be a decent run from both crews.
“RGU’s success brings a pressure.
“We are still the underdogs. Some of our team are novices we’ve brought in.
“It should be close.”
Meanwhile, one of Rosie’s counterparts on the University of Aberdeen team, Jenny McCormick, 23, has swapped the Edinburgh v Glasgow boat race for the Granite City version.
Jenny, who is doing a Masters in medical physics, rowed for Glasgow – and hopes she fares better for Aberdeen than for them. She said: “In recent years Edinburgh have shown a lot of dominance so being in the Glasgow boats wasn’t so fun.
“This weekend will be a much closer, more interesting race – especially with the mix of men and women.
“I think it’s pretty different.
“I’d never rowed with men in a boat until a couple of weeks ago.
“There’s certainly a lot more kick behind the boat.
“The girls bring a technical aspect, while the boys bring a lot more aggression and power. It’s a good mix.”