Sanita Puspure has been rowing for over twenty years and the last two years have been the most successful of her career. The 2019 World Rowing Championships in Linz, Austria has seen a phenomenal performance by the Irish team with 4 Olympic qualifications and 4 medals achieved. With sheer grit, determination and outstanding class, Puspure leads and inspires the Irish team. Two time World Champion, an incredible achievement for the Irish sculler, who has worked tirelessly to become the fastest woman in the world.
Each round seemed effortless. Dominant. Controlled. With thirty seven world class athletes competing in the women’s single sculls, each were aware of Sanita Puspure, 2018 World Champion, who has been in the form of her life. As she progressed through the rounds, Puspure led from the front and it was evident that she was here for one thing only – to retain her World Championship title. The final was a different story as Emma Twigg of New Zealand gave a zealous effort in an attempt to challenge the champion.
Six scullers made it to the final. The race that would determine the 2019 World Champion. With Olympic Qualification handled for all scullers of Final A, the potential to make the podium was in sight. The athletes lined up for the final boasted Olympic medals, World Championship medals, and all round top class talent. Sanita Puspure. Emma Twigg. Kara Kohler. Victoria Thornley. Jeannine Gmelin. Carling Zeeman.
Emma Twigg had a fantastic World Championship campaign, second to Puspure in the semi-final and posting the fastest time of the heats – the biggest threat to Puspure in the final. Jeannine Gmelin of Switzerland was the 2017 World Champion, qualified slowest from the semi finals but was definitely not one to count out. Kara Kohler of the United States, was racing incredibly well through each round and ready to fight it out in the final.
Sanita Puspure had rated consistently in each round, sitting at a rate of 35 and powering home to victory. Coming into the final, her World Title was on the line and the race unfolded differently.
Twigg took it out fast from the start in an attempt to rattle Sanita Puspure. Putting distance between her and the rest of the field, she raced with a strategy of get ahead, stay ahead. Speaking with Puspure after the race, Emma Twigg shared that she knew it was her best shot at beating the current World Champion. Puspure tracked Twigg, holding her position as they pushed away from the rest of the field. Kara Kohler and Victoria Thornley were battling for bronze with very little between them for the 2km race.
Victoria Thornley went out bravely with Twigg, but by 500m Puspure settled into the race in second place coming through the rest of the field. Biding her time, Sanita switched gears with 750m to go and started working her way to challenge Emma Twigg. Twigg looked cool, calm, collected but was aware of the looming threat of Sanita Puspure. As they progressed through the last 500m, Twigg started to grimace as Puspure came closer and closer. By 350m to go, Puspure was in gold medal position, pushing on and Twigg had little left to challenge with.
Puspure finished over a length ahead of Twigg, in a time of 7:17.14. Twigg picked up the silver and Kara Kohler moved up the field, overtaking Victoria Thornley to claim the bronze medal.
The fastest times in the quarter final. The fastest time in the semi final. The fastest time of the final to be declared World Champion.
The Irish Women’s team were particularly strong at this World Championships, with Katie O’Brien winning bronze in the PR2 event. Aileen Crowley and Monika Dukarska qualifying the Women’s Pair for the Tokyo Olympics and the young Women’s Four of Emily Hegarty, Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe and Tara Hanlon finishing tenth overall. The Women’s Four have a very good chance at qualifying the boat next year, as they continue to gain experience and speed. Three of the athletes in this boat won silver medals in the Women’s Four at the Under 23 World Championships and show incredible promise over the next few years.