"WE DID IT!!!"
She may have been 8,000 kilometres away from her boy, but the sheer joy and relief in Catherine Turrin's voice as she watched her youngest son Spencer row to a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics reverberated down the phone, across the seas and into the ages.
"Feeling pretty bloody proud," Mrs Turrin said.
"I'm all shaking," said Spencer's older sister, Sarah Turrin, moments after watching her brother and his three rowing mates cross the finish line first. "It's just like the pinnacle for him, and it's been so long in coming."
Spencer Turrin's journey began in Dungog, where he was raised, leading all the way to this moment, to Olympic glory, as a member of Australia's newest Oarsome Foursome. But he hasn't journeyed alone.
With COVID-19 ruling out travelling to Tokyo to be with Spencer as he represented Australia in the men's fours rowing competition, about 20 members of his family, comprising three generations, and friends gathered in the Canberra home of Catherine's brother on Wednesday to watch the final.
The Turrins chose Canberra because, under COVID restrictions, they could have more people in the same home. Spencer's two older brothers, Samuel and Joseph, joined the cheering party via Zoom, because they were in lockdown in Sydney.
"When they win, you'll be able to hear us from Canberra to there," said Vic Turrin, Spencer's father, as he took time out from inflating green and gold balloons.
About 500 kilometres to the north-east of Canberra, pockets of friends clustered around televisions in Dungog. While the Turrins recently moved to Newcastle, they regard Dungog as their hometown and its residents among their son's greatest supporters.
"As the people of Dungog say, 'I hope we're not too heavy in the boat, because we're all in there with him'," said Mrs Turrin.
One cheer squad was assembled in the Dungog Public School hall, as 220 students and 35 staff watched the final and roared for their former school captain.
"It's exciting," said principal Kylie Pennell. "We've been doing research, and there's been a lot of talk."
There has been much to research on Spencer Turrin. He threw himself into rowing as a teenager while at boarding school at Saint Joseph's College, Hunters Hill, in Sydney. He sliced through the water and the ranks, winning national and world events. In 2016, he was named in the men's pairs for the Rio Olympic Games, finishing sixth. Now, in his second Olympics, Turrin was in reach of gold.
"I'm as nervous as hell for him," said his Mum before the final. "I feel like I'm rowing the race."
Sarah Turrin, who was among the family contingent in Rio supporting her brother, was feeling the distance this time.
"You just want to be there to give him a hug," Sarah said, as she held her baby boy, Ollie, dressed in green and gold.
Finally, just after 11am, the race was on the television. All that was between Spencer and a gold medal were 2000 metres. And the finest and fastest rowers from around the world. The Turrin support crew allowed me to join the party for the final via the mobile phone.
"Go boys!," they hollered at the start.
For five minutes and 42.76 seconds, they cheered and yelled and willed Spencer and his three mates to the finish line.
"Keep those muscles moving!," said Catherine Turrin.
"Go Spence!," shouted another supporter.
And when the Australians were first past that line, the room in Canberra erupted.
"We're overwhelmed," said Vic Turrin. "It's just unreal."
In the Dungog Public School hall, another eruption of joy.
"Screaming, yelling, we had some streamers," said Kylie Pennell.
About 20 minutes after the race, Vic and Catherine Turrin spoke with their gold medallist son.
"He was, 'I love you, Mum! I love you, Dad!'," recounted Mrs Turrin.
In Dungog, principal Kylie Pennell was already planning her Education Week speech, talking about how a local boy showed just how far persistence and dedication could take you in life. And she would invite Spencer, with his gold medal, to the school, next time he was back in Dungog.
In Canberra, Australian sparkling wine flowed and bottles of Grange hermitage, kept for a very special occasion, were uncorked.
And all the while, a proud mother drank in this extraordinary moment.
"He's got his dream," Catherine Turrin said. "He's got his dream!"
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