In this special episode of Setanta Talks, we travelled to the National Rowing Centre to chat with one of Ireland’s most driven athletes, Sanita Puspure – watch the video now.

There’s something in the water in Farran Wood

Driving through the gates of the National Rowing Centre, you cannot but be impressed by the scale of the facility and this stretch of water along the River Lee. It is from here Sanita prepared under coach Dave McKenzie McGowan and high-performance director Antonio Maurogiovanni, culminating in a special day at the World Championships in Plovdiv. Puspure achieved sporting immortality by proving herself to be the best single sculler in the world.


Winning gold in Plovdiv. Photo credit: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Our own Jack Donovan asks the questions, while we go behind the scenes and see how days are spent on the water and in the gym. We hear about where it all began, from a chance encounter during a PE class in Latvia and an inspirational first coach. The journey to reaching this point in 2018 has been eventful. There was an unconventional return to the sport she loves when she moved to Dublin with her family, taking just two years to wear the green of Ireland at the London Olympics in 2012, and the many ups and downs thereafter.

Sanita openly discussed the challenges of training, finding motivation where there is sometimes none, fuelling the body during multiple sessions, tackling 26km training days on the water, and the support network that allows Puspure prepare in hail, rain and shine.

We also ask Sanita to relive that spine-tingling day in Bulgaria which put the eyes of the world on one rower and her boat.

“The race plan was to go hard, then go harder. The last strokes I don’t even remember. Everything was left there.”

Tokyo 2020 On The Horizon

In a season of success, Sanita Puspure is leading the way in Irish Rowing alongside the O’Donovan brothers, Gary and Paul, who won the lightweight double sculls gold in Plovdiv. Then there are the names of Aifric Keogh and Emily Hegarty, the Ireland women’s pair, who reached an A Final at the World Championships. The World Under-23 Championships were also laden with success while Dominic Casey was honoured as the World Rowing coach of the year. These are heady days for Rowing Ireland, with the Tokyo Olympics on the horizon.


Setanta’s Jack Donovan with Sanita Puspure at the National Rowing Centre.

A medal for Ireland is a good thing. A medal made in Ireland is a great thing. The steps made by Sport Ireland, and the supporting services of the Sport Ireland Institute, are now world class. As a student of Setanta College, Sanita can see the science of strength and conditioning become a reality through the programmes of Eamonn Flanagan. Sports psychologist Kate Kirby makes sure she is mentally prepared while the team environment created at Farran Wood ensures that each member of the high performance set up can carry each other along on the tough days.

Leaving a Legacy

In an insight into Sanita’s character, she doesn’t necessarily see her legacy as inspiring future world champions. Inspiring young rowers to get to the gym, and being the reason a mother in her mid-thirties gets back to running and training, are equally special to the World Champion.

Sanita Puspure. A rower, an athlete and the best women’s single sculler in the world. A student, mother and inspiration to all who have a dream.