Sanita Puspure won her women’s single sculls semi-final to power through to the medal race at the World Rowing Championships in Bulgaria.
Puspure left no doubt as to her capability in this race, briefly sitting in second place in the first quarter behind Denmark’s Fie Udby Erichsen, before going on to take the lead before they had reached 1000 metres.
By then there was no stopping the Irish sculler who had the bit between her teeth, and pulled ahead to win the semi-final outright by a margin of almost eight seconds, producing the quickest semi-final time for good measure.
Puspure puts her improvements this year down to eating more - on the advice of Sharon Madigan, head of performance nutrition at the Sport Ireland Institute.
"The programme changed, I started eating more – eat more and you’ll have more energy to train," she explained.
"Today now is about relaxing, seeing the family and maybe having an ice-cream and then train tomorrow, small steps until the race on Sunday and trying to execute the best race I can."
She now joins the women’s pair (Aifric Keogh and Emily Hegarty) and the lightweight men’s double sculls (Gary and Paul O’ Donovan) in the A Finals this weekend, where they have the opportunity to race for medals.
The Latvian-born Puspure has been living in Ireland for more than a decade and is a real medal prospect given the form she has been showing this week in Plovdiv.
She finished fourth last year in Sarasota, USA, and that memory is driving her on, saying: "I’ve been thinking about that podium place since last year when I finished just outside the medals."
Ireland's men's lightweight quadruple sculls boat finished fifth in their A final. Fintan McCarthy, Ryan Balantine, Jacob McCarthy and Andrew Goff were six seconds down on winners Germany.
The six finalists battled hard down the course, and it wasn’t until beyond the half way mark that boats began to break away from the field. Germany, who had lead by small margins throughout, crossed the line in first place taking the gold medal, followed closely by the Italians in second and Turkey in third.
Earlier, Philip Doyle and Ronan Byrne finished fifth in their men’s double sculls semi-final, which sees them through to the B final. This wasn’t bad work considering the pair have only been training together a matter of months.
"We’re a bit disappointed because we were the fastest qualifying boat out of the repechage yesterday so we thought we could have a go at the A final. But we gave it a go, the race went to plan and the other crews were a lot more experienced than us," said Byrne.
Doyle added: "We can take some positives from the fact that we’ve gotten faster as we have gone along. If you had said to us before this regatta that we’d even be in a semi-final, we’d have gone for that.
"We haven’t been training together very long and we took a good gap in the middle too from training together to do our own projects so there’s a lot of – and this is a dangerous word in sport – potential in the boat. We’re trying to push that ceiling as we go."
Highlights of all of today's rowing action from Bulgaria are on RTÉ2 Television from 7.0pm.