Latvian-born sculler Sanita Puspure has become the 53rd athlete to meet the Olympic standard and qualify to represent Ireland at the 2012 London Games.
The 30 year-old finished in fourth place in the final qualifying competition, in Lucerne, where only the first four would qualify for London.
Puspure alone will carry with her Irish rowing hopes in London . She held on to that fourth place from early in the race behind Denmark’s Fie Udby Erichsen, Australia’s Kim Crow and Estonia’s Kaisa Pajusalu Estonia in third.
As they approached the halfway mark the only change saw Gevvie Stone of the USA take up third ahead of Puspure,with the Estonian fast losing her position but Puspure put in a sprint with 500m to go and held on to that fourth place to the finish.
The Australian took first place, with Erichsen second, the American third and Puspure fourth.
“I put everything into that last 500m — it was a huge risk, but I’m glad it paid off,” she said.
“It feels pretty amazing — it hasn’t really sunk in yet, so I’m looking forward to waking up tomorrow.”
“I still can’t believe I did it,”
“Yes, I was hoping to pass the United States and Estonia,’ she told ‘The Irish Times’.
She came to Ireland in 2006 joining the Old Collegians club and became Irish champion in 2009 and again a year later. She had previously represented Lativia at U-23 level before emigrating to Ireland.
Last year in an effort to qualify for the London Olympics the family moved again – this time from Dublin to the Irish National Rowing training centre at Farran Wood near Inniscara in Cork.
Born in Riga, her previous most notable achievement was gaining bronze for her native Latvia in the single sculls at the World under-23 Championships in 2003 and a year later struck Gold in the double scull final at the World Student Games .
She represented Ireland at the 2010 World Cup event but could not compete in the World Championships until she had formally received her Irish passport, which came only last year.
Ireland has had a previous rower in the event at the 1980 Olympic Games – Leitrim’s Frances Cryan though the rules then allowed each country to enter a competitor and there was no qualifying requirement.