June 1st 2014 was a day of firsts for Irish rowing, when Sanita Puspure won a hard-fought bronze medal at the 2014 European Rowing Championships. It was the first Irish medal at senior level in the heavyweight women’s category, and the first ever Irish medal at the European Championships. It was also Puspure’s first major international medal since winning a bronze medal, when representing Latvia, at the 2003 U23 World Championships (which took place at the same venue).
In the blue-riband Olympic event, Puspure starting strongly to establish herself in the leading pack of scullers from Austria and Czech Republic. She held third place in a tightly packed group for the first 1500 metres of the race. In the final 500 metres, Puspure moved through the Austrian sculler Magdalena Lobnig into second place. However, the fast-finishing Chantal Achterberg of the Netherlands tore through the field in the final metres of the race, just pipping Puspure on the line to take the silver medal in a time of 07:43.02. Just 0.02 seconds separated the two at the finish line.
Reigning Olympic Champion Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic won the race, in a time of 7:42.74, just 0.3 seconds ahead of Puspure. At the finish line there was less than two seconds separating first and fourth place.
I feel incredible, I’m elated. This is my first medal for Ireland in single sculls. My plan was just to keep going hard, hard, hard”
The full race can be viewed here.
Puspure will next compete at the World Cup II in Aiguebelette, France, from 20-22 June, in the Women’s Single Scull.