Missing out on the New Zealand team to contest the World Cup regattas this year may have been a blessing in disguise for Louise Ayling.

Competing in her first international regatta as a lightweight single, Ayling yesterday proved the surprise package of the Kiwi team, nabbing silver in the final.

Even Ayling was a little shocked to find herself on the podium.

"It's something that I never thought I could achieve in my life," she said.

After being overlooked for selection in the squad that travelled to Europe for the World Cup series earlier this year, Ayling was forced to reassess her commitment to the sport.

She threw herself into an even more stringent training regime, moving to Hawkes Bay to train with local coach Doc McDonald, who Ayling credits for helping her regain her passion.

"I guess everything happens for a reason and because I didn't go away I knew that I would have to work harder than everybody else, and I wanted this so much so I put everything in."

And Ayling certainly repaid the selectors' faith, yesterday producing the race of her short solo career.

Fourth at the 1500m mark, Ayling looked as if she may struggle to make the podium. German entrant Marie-Louise Draeger was well out in front and powering her way to gold. But Italy's Laura Milani and Fabiana Beltrame of Brazil were still in her sights and Ayling realised if she could keep the pressure on them, even just gaining a centimetre at a time, she had a chance.

"I knew if I didn't give it my best I would regret it," she said.

With the lightweight single a non-Olympic event, Ayling's next goal is to force her way back into a double and earn selection for the London Games. She and Candice Hammond attempted to qualify the boat for Beijing two years ago, but came up short. To force her way back into the boat Ayling will have to break up the partnership of Lucy Strack and Julia Edward, who made the A final in Karapiro.

"I want to go to the Olympics and I don't think I'll ever give up on that."