In a wonderful rowing year for Ireland, Sanita Puspure’s achievements stood out, and she has been chosen as the Irish Times Sportswoman of the Year.
Puspure, who turns 38 today, defended her title as world champion in the single sculls, one of the most competitive disciplines at this level. She started the year well, winning gold at the Memorial Paolo d’Aloja regatta in Italy and going on to win at the European Championships.
From there, the season took second place to the illness, and then the sad death, of her sister Inese, who had struggled with cancer for over a year.
Sanita missed the World Cup series. The World Championships in Linz-Ottensheim in Austria were the best route to the Olympic Games, but what form would the Ireland standard bearer be in? She banished all doubts. She saw off her biggest challenger, Emma Twigg of New Zealand in a gutsy semi-final battle, then let Twigg lead for much of the final before sweeping past her to win well. Sanita dedicated the win to Inese.
It was not the year she hoped for, but Sanita Puspure ends it with another, deserved, honour.