AN ATTEMPT to gain a rare international qualification has ended in something even more impressive for Melanie Harris.
The Bendigo kettlebell ace was striving to achieve the rank of master of sport international class (MSIC), when she competed in a Ketacademy sanctioned half-marathon event this month.
Harris became only the third Australian athlete to obtain her MSIC, which is the highest international ranking in the sport.
But what unfolded next for the Bendigo athlete made her success doubly sweet.
Harris' 240 reps of the single 24kg bell, using the one-arm long technique for 30 minutes, earned her a world record.
She bettered the previous mark, held by an American kettlebell lifter, by 22 reps.
In an amazing turn of events for the Rock Hard Training/Kettlebells gym run by Bendigo's Don Grant, a second lifter, Sarah Lea, also broke the previous world record with 220 reps to earn her MSIC.
That athletes' combined efforts made Bendigo home to two of the only three lifters in Australia to achieve the international honour.
As both athletes were competing at the same time, Grant joked that Lea may have in fact owned the world record "for just a split second".
He said Harris had faced a nervous wait for confirmation of her world record.
"On the same weekend there were three competitions in Russia and we didn't know if the world record stood," he said.
"But the girls in Russia didn't come anywhere near Mel.
"When you consider kettlebell lifting originated in Russia and is a huge sport over there, Mel's world record is a huge deal."
In considering power-to-weight ratio, Harris' world record feat becomes even more impressive.
For an athlete weighing in the mid-50kg bracket, she had to lift almost half her own weight - with one arm - for half an hour.
It is not the first time Harris - a former Heathcote District netballer - has broken a kettlebell world record.
She set a new one hour mark, using 16kg bells, at the world championships in Denmark last year.
But Harris, who admitted to having "a love-hate relationship with kettlebells" and a few setbacks along the way, said it was the challenge and not world records that kept her motivated.
"I'm quite a competitive person, so when I stopped playing netball I wanted to do something else - and I had been training with Don for a very long time," she said.
"I've been on and off kettlebells and eventually Don just wore me down and I started competing.
"I really enjoyed being back part of a team and I like being challenged. Kettlebells are all about the challenge.
"And it's more about challenging yourself, it's not so much about competing against other people, it's competing against your own self and improving yourself and upping your own rank in the sport."
It's shaping as a busy few months ahead for Harris, who will contest the regional championships, to be hosted in Bendigo in July, where she will return to the traditional lift of 10 minute sets lifting a 24kg bell with only one hand change.
The national championships will follow in August before she attempts to defend her one-hour 16kg bell marathon world title at the IKMF World Championships in Milan, Italy in November.