#Rowing: Sanita Puspure says it was harder to defend her World Rowing Championship title that it was to win it for the first time. "Mentally I think [it was harder]. Everyone is looking at you. You're the one to beat and you're like 'oh stop now' but that's what it was. You just try to ignore it as best you can.”
Puspure, an ambassdor for Indeed, the partner of Team Ireland, was speaking in Dublin after her win in the singles sculls at the World Rowing Championships in Austria. She also qualified the boat for the 2020 Olympic Games.
The world champion spoke about the programme which has brought her along. “We have a really good nutritionist, Sharon Madigan, working with us, making sure we're fueling properly for the loads we're doing. That's made a massive difference. I used to get ill quite a lot while training whereas now I occasionally get a head cold. The training is way more consistent."
Her competition schedule during the summer was hit by the illness and subsequent death of her sister Inese. Puspure competed at the European Championships (she won), but missed the final World Cup regatta in Rotterdam.
“(Inese) was getting worse rapidly, so I went over for a few days and then I was home for a little bit. And then I was in Latvia for three weeks and she passed away the same week the World Cup was on.
"It was scary because I had very mixed emotions. I thought I should be at home training but at the same time, I wanted to spend some quality time with my sister because I knew she was going to pass away soon.
"It was really hard being so conflicted within myself and not knowing what to do. Because of that, the medal has very high value. And we just needed something nice to happen."
She paid tribute to her sport pyschologist, Kate Kirby.
"Even if it was just to seal the qualifying place, I should be happy with that. And there were times when I thought if I just qualify I'll be fine. But then a few hours I'll be 'no I won't be fine, I don't want to just qualify. I want to repeat what I did last year or even just get on a podium.' It was a difficult time but I'm really glad we got on the other side of it."
The new programme in this Olympic cycle also capitalised on the strengths she had and built her self-belief, which had not always been strong.
“Yeh, I think a bit of a lack of self belief, definitely.” She was lucky to have “great physiology” but it may have been better technique and the “harsh training we started two years ago that really kind of gave the confidence”.
She also paid tribute to her family and her supportive team-mates.
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