A qualified PADI rescue diver, drummer, singer, coxswain and foodie, Sophie hails from the bogs of County Offaly and the hot sands of Dubai. Sophie made the move to Dublin in 2011 with the rest of the country folk hoping to find inspiration from the ‘Big City’. After a post-graduate degree in UCD, Sophie continued on to do a Masters in Public Relations in DIT where she joined DIT Rowing Club. Sophie accidentally found her niche in coxing very soon after joining DIT and Commercial Rowing Club, coxing the Men’s Club Crew for the remainder of the 2015 Season. A number of successes on the water throughout the 2015, 2016 and 2017 seasons saw Sophie selected as part of the Irish squad for the Home International Regatta in Glasgow 2017 where the crew was placed second. Sophie sat as part of the Men’s Intermediate and Senior Crews in 2018 and 2019, travelling to the 2019 Ghent International Regatta, and taking home a silver medal in the Men’s 8+. Most recently, Sophie secured a win in the Irish National Championships in 2019 with the Women’s Intermediate 4+.
20×20: Questions with Sophie Eustace
1. What’s your first memory of sport as a child?
My late father was a motor racing nut and used to race at the weekends in Mondello. I remember attending these races with my Mum and my brother and also watching the Formula One with my Dad on Sunday’s!
2. How did you first become involved in sport?
School gave me my first introduction to sport. I was a very introverted young person so I was not interested in becoming involved in clubs outside of school. I played hockey throughout my schooling years.
3. What sports did you try as a child?
Hockey was the main sport in school but we were given a few opportunities to practice athletics and running, I was told I would be a very good long distance runner, hence my current goal to run the 2019 Dublin Marathon.
4. What decided you to settle on your chosen sport
Upon moving to DIT after my UCD college years, I was at a transition point in my life and made a decision to start with the rowing club as a method of keeping fit. I settled with rowing initially because the people involved became close friends very quickly and I had a ‘knack’ for it.
5. Who has had the most impact on your sporting career?
My own perfectionism is a big driver for me growing and learning as a coxswain but wanting to match and surpass the skills and abilities of the more senior coxswains generally I feel is a big driving force for me.
6. What female do you most admire in the world of sport?
Katie Taylor. Her talent and her determination is simply astonishing to me, but what I respect and admire most of all is Katie’s humble and modest nature. I really admire it when I see any athlete with those traits.
7. Outside of sport what do you do in your leisure time?
Because my sport does not keep me fit yet requires me to be fit, I spend my own free time keeping fit by running and have recently started listening to Podcasts, (Beyond the Grid -about F1 and Second Captains – general sports) and reading in the evenings.
8. What is the last movie you went to see? What is your favourite movie of all time?
I went to see Aladdin and loved it! My favourite movie of all time is hard to say, I loved Django because of the incredible casting and well paired music score. I also loved The Theory of Everything because of the superb acting. Senna is probably the most emotional movie I have ever seen again was directed so well.
9. What music do you listen to?
I have always played music myself and music runs in the family, I like all types of music but have recently enjoyed alternative music – Tame Impala, Alt J, Cashmere Cat. My favourite bands of all time would be the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Muse. U2 music as with most Irish people is very close to my heart.
10. Are you a reading fan? If so what are you currently reading?
I have just finished two books whilst on holidays, ‘Bad Blood’ about a Silicon Valley start-up, Theranos that duped investors into thinking it was creating a ground-breaking blood testing technology but ended in the lies and coverups being exposed by a Wall Street Journal writer. ‘Elsewhere’ is a book by Rosita Boland and takes you through nine stories of various travels in her life – I adored reading this. Really lovely book. I went to Hodges Figges when I arrived back to Ireland and bought four books and am starting, just for fun, with ‘The Bluffers Guide to Formula One’.
11. Do you follow any sports stars on social media? If so who?
I love to follow tennis players – Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, Coco Gauff, and Formula One drivers, Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris, Max Verstappen and more – their lives are full of travel and hard work! I follow Katie Taylor (of course) and an Australian snowboarder Scotty James – he won Olympic silver at PyeongChang 2018!
12. Forget about your sporting diet for a moment? Your favourite meal when you breakout?
My favourite meal is Japanese food! Salmon Sashimi, Miso Soup, Sushi Roll, Gyoza, etc. We have sushi once a week. I love fine dining restaurants – Peploes, Chapter One, Mr. Fox.
13. Who do you most admire in your own sport?
In Rowing, Paul and Gary O’Donovan – again they are extremely modest and unfussy.
14. Do you have a special ritual before competing?
I don’t have any ritual but I have to be calm and focused, ensuring the crew are calm and focused.
15. Do you still play other sports for fun?
I run – but I don’t participate in any other team sport. I would love to ski someday!
16. What advice would you give to young girls & boys to encourage them to participate in sport?
I have 5 nieces and a nephew, they are all into sports, I tell them to train hard and see where it gets them 😊 – one of my nieces I am convinced can be a serious runner in the future!
17. What has been your biggest sporting achievement?
My biggest achievement to date is being a part of the Home International Irish squad and winning an Irish National Championship in 2019.
18. How do you cope with (a) injuries; (b) other setbacks?
Setbacks for me are generally being excluded from the crew for a certain race – staying focused is very key because switching off makes you loose focus on your goals.
19. What do your family make of your success?
My family have very little interest in my sport – rowing can be a difficult one to understand for those not involved as a lot of time goes into it!
20. What does sport mean to you?
It gives me purpose which I can’t live without – it is the most important aspect of life! It allows me to be competitive and also to socialise.