For this week’s ‘Spotlight On’ feature we are shining the light on world champion rower, Sanita Puspure.
Sanita moved to Ireland in 2006 and rekindled her love for rowing after she originally kicked off her sporting career in Latvia.
With a world title under her belt and after representing Ireland in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics – it’s evident that Sanita is one of the most inspiring women in Irish sport.
We chatted to Sanita about her rowing career, how she keeps motivated and the advice she would give to up-and-coming rowers.
Rowing is an incredibly difficult and intense sport, how did you get into it?
I was picked up during PE class when I was 15, I didn’t really know what rowing was, but it was something new to try and that was exciting.
What advice would you give to young girls who are feeling self-conscious about taking up a sport?
Put all that self-consciousness aside and give it a try. Sport has given me a lot of confidence. It has thought me discipline, how to be patient and keep trying. All this transfers into normal, non-sport life too. And sport is fun and it provides a lot of opportunities.
How do you keep motivated in such a tough sport?
I’m very ambitious, so that drives me, but it is not easy to maintain that drive in the middle of the winter, when it’s pouring rain and blowing gale and it’s cold. Then I resort to bribery – I promise myself something nice after the hard day, snack or retail therapy. And also reminding myself what am I doing this for, helps to switch on and keep going.
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You are a sculling world champion, what sort of determination and preparation goes into working towards a world championship?
There was a lot of hard work involved. Many weeks away from the family on training camps. We do around 13-16 sessions a week and it does take up a lot of our time, so social life is
pretty much non-existent.
What goes through your head when you are in your scull at the start of a race?
I’m trying to focus on the process ahead of me. Thinking about the start sequence and going through the race plan for the last time before executing it.
Do you think that looking after your mental health is important for a sportsperson?
Absolutely. The happier I am the better I perform. There are a lot of ups and downs involved in elite sport, different athletes deal with it differently as well, so it is very important to
make sure athletes are well looked after not just on the pitch/water/road but off the pitch/water/road too.
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Rowing has become more popular in recent years, where do you see the future of rowing going in Ireland?
Up, up and up!!! It’s great to see that participation in rowing is increasing every year, and not just kids, but also adults take up rowing as their sport and they really enjoy it. It bonds people as it is very much team focused.
You also represented Ireland in the 2016 Olympics, are you working towards the 2020
All the focus this year is on qualifying the boat for Tokyo 2020. The qualifiers in on during the World Championships at the end of August. Keep fingers crossed!
What advice would you give to any young rowers who are hoping to make it the Olympics/World Championships in the future?
Don’t just focus on the end result, enjoy the journey! Keep your mind open and never give up!