Sanita Pušpure is a Latvian-born Irish professional rower. She is the reigning world champion in the women’s single scull winning her title at the 2018 World Rowing Championships in Plovdiv and defending it at the 2019 World Rowing Championships in Ottensheim. She initially competed for Latvia at a junior level, but she moved to Ireland in 2006 and began competing for her adopted country in 2010, before gaining full Irish nationality in 2011.She was selected as the sole rowing competitor for Ireland at the 2012 Summer Olympics and she qualified for the Women’s single sculls at the 2016 Summer Olympics.

20×20: Questions with Sanita Puspure


1. What’s your first memory of sport as a child?

I used to go skiing outside during the winter beside school and used to watch older kids do their sports class.

2. How did you first become involved in sport?

I was always active as a kid, so getting into sports wasn’t hard. There were a lot of afterschool activities available in school. I used to just sign up for everything I could.

3. What sports did you try as a child?

I tried swimming (as part of PE), athletics, basketball.

4. What decided you to settle on your chosen sport?

I knew nothing about rowing when I signed up at first. It was the challenge and social side of the sport that kept me in it.

5. Who has had the most impact on your sporting career?

I was never pushed into anything by my parents, most of the time they wouldn’t know what I’m up to. But I saw my mom work very hard, so that taught me that hard work is the base of everything. And coaches were the ones that pushed and encouraged me.

6. What female do you most admire in the world of sport?

We all are amazing! 🙂

7. Outside of sport what do you do in your leisure time?

There isn’t much time left for any other activities. During the winter it’s the struggle to keep on top of lunch, dinner preparations and get enough recovery in. Sometimes while recovering Netflix would my guilty pleasure. Good book wouldn’t go amiss too.

8. What is the last movie you went to see? What is your favourite movie of all time?

I haven’t been to cinema with grown-ups for a long time. Last movie I went to was Diary of a Wimpy Kid!

9. What music do you listen to?

Whatever is on the radio or some decent YouTube playlist, and whatever Aifric Keogh (my teammate) has on for the workouts.

10. Are you a reading fan? If so what are you currently reading?

I do like a good book. Trying to get my hands on the new Aisling book. At the moment reading Kiwi Pair, rowing related book.

11. Do you follow any sports stars on social media? If so who?

I do indeed. All my teammates of course and some other athletes.

12. Forget about your sporting diet for a moment? Your favourite meal when you breakout?

I love a good burger with sweet potato chips.

13. Who do you most admire in your own sport?

We have an awesome group of people training in Cork at the moment. They are nothing short of admiration. I can learn a lot from them every single day.

14. Do you have a special ritual before competing?

My routine is my ritual. Warm up on the land includes some stretching and activation work. Then I’ll have a chat with my coach 5 min before getting on the water. After that I have a 40 min warm up on the water and then I’m ready to race. I always have an energy get before the race, even if I don’t really need it, so that probably is the ritual !

15. Do you still play other sports for fun?

At the moment I would be very careful with other sporting activities mainly to avoid any slightest chances of injury. And to be very honest, I wouldn’t have any energy left after all the fun we have in our sessions as we train 16 times per week.

16. What advice would you give to young girls & boys to encourage them to participate in sport?

There is sport for everyone, you just have to find the one you like and enjoy it! Being part of a team gives you great sense of belonging.

17. What has been your biggest sporting achievement?

Winning World Championships last year (2018) and repeating it this year.

18. How do you cope with (a) injuries; (b) other setbacks?

Not too well. It takes a lot of mental energy to get over setbacks. There is always someone ready to help. I’m lucky enough to be supported by amazing staff at Institute of Sport, when they find out I’m in trouble, they are like little soldiers that line up and are there for me.

19. What do your family make of your success?

Depends on the day and the mood they are in!

20. What does sport mean to you?

I don’t know where I would’ve I been without it. Sport is just my thing.



Check out the 20×20 Women in Sport Calendar for upcoming fixtures