EMERALD'S Sara Malone finished within a whisker of the Central Rodeo Cowboys Association's top gong last year.
Disappointed but far from disheartened, Malone vowed to go one better next time.
True to her word, Malone was crowned the CRCA Rodeo Queen for 2013 during an emotional presentation at last weekend's rodeo finals in Rockhampton.
"It felt like all my dreams had come true, I was just so excited," Malone said.
"It's a big weight off my shoulders."
But as the local cowgirl is only too aware, this is just the beginning of what will be an incredibly busy 12 months as the face of CRCA on the CQ rodeo circuit.
"I'm only at the bottom of what is a really big hill." Sara Malone.
The Emerald barrel racing and breakaway roping competitor edged out fellow finalist Amie Jamieson to take the rodeo queen crown.
Judges scrutinised the queen nominees' every move, both inside the ring and out of it, to determine the winner.
While the actual finals competition lasted just three days, Malone spent the better part of two weeks in the beef capital, visiting sponsors and fans from around the region to strengthen her chances of taking out the title.
Malone thanked all those who supported her during her quest to be rodeo queen.