Sanita Puspure, Ireland’s two-time rowing world champion in the single scull was awarded the Irish Times/Sport Ireland Sportswoman of the Year for 2019.
She is the first rower to win the award in its 16-year history and tops off a year in which she defended her World Rowing Championship title after first winning it in 2018. She also achieved qualification for Tokyo 2020 after reaching the world championship final.
Puspure, who was born in Latvia, won her second single sculls title at Ottensheim in Austria by overtaking British Olympic silver medallist Vicky Thornley then passing New Zealand’s Emma Twigg in the last 500 metres to secure her victory.
After winning the award Puspure said: “This is a really nice reward personally. There were so many good athletes in the running, and I am really mixing with the cream of Irish women’s sport here,” she said.
“It is also great for Irish rowing as we have been making a dent on the whole international scene in recent years.”
Puspure moved to Ireland in 2006 after her husband got a job there. She was not allowed to represent Ireland at the World Championships until she received her nationality in 2011.
- Meet Rosie Swale Pope, the 73-year-old adventurer
- Hot Topic: Is Drag culture as harmful as blackface?
- Women’s Sports: Do Sportswomen even write books?
She wasn’t the only sportswoman recognised at the awards. Mary Geaney, who lead Kerry to All-Ireland football success in 1976 before leading Cork’s camogie team to victory in 1978, was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Sport 2019 Award.
She was the first person to achieve the feat and also played hockey for Ireland, representing the country 65 times.
The Deputy Editor of The Irish Times Deirdre Veldon said: “We are humbled in marking the achievements of our elite sportswomen here today. We salute their sporting prowess and skill of course, but also their dedication, their backbone and their bouncebackability. We pay tribute to their families and friends whose patience is undoubtedly endless and whose support is incalculable in their loved ones’ quest for success.”