Sam Voss is a rower to watch. The Waikato student won the Under 23 World Championship single sculls final in Poland last week, making her a legend in the rowing community and a serious contender for New Zealand’s 2020 Olympic Squad.
Competing against the world’s top rowers, it was a close race, but Sam took the lead in the last 500 metres. She says her aim was always a medal, but taking the gold was an amazing feeling.
“I’m so proud to be able to say that I’m the world champion in the Women’s Under 23 single sculls,” the Rowing New Zealand athlete says.
It’s hard to believe that the prospect of even competing seemed unlikely for Sam just one year ago. After a strong 2016/17 season, a boat fell on Sam’s foot just four days before the Under 23 trials, breaking her ankle in three places. Doctors said she wouldn’t be able to race for 18 months, but she was back on the water in three.
“Obviously I was heartbroken at the time, but I knew I had more to give to the sport and an injury wasn’t going to impact my long-term goals,” Sam says. “The setback added so much perspective to my life in sport and fuelled my desire to win even more!”
Sam has been rowing for six seasons now and, although the training is intense, there are lots of things that make her want to keep coming back.
“It’s a sport where you get out what you put in – if you’re willing to work hard you’ll reap the rewards,” she says. “The rowing community is a really big factor as well – the dynamic of being part of a crew is very special.”
Sam is in her second year of a Bachelor of Health Sport and Human Performance and says working with the Student Athlete Support Hub (SASH) has made a big difference to her rowing career by allowing her to balance her training with her studies.
“I’ve had the pleasure of working with SASH – they’ve helped me to select papers that will work with my training and communicate with my lecturers.”
After another ankle surgery this month, Sam will get back into training as soon as she can. She’s hoping for another quick recovery, and has her sights set on Tokyo in 2020.
Sam’s achievements add to a successful year for the University of Waikato Rowing Club which won the Aon University Rowing Championships in April. Jack O’Leary was in the men’s quad at the Under 23 World Championships, taking out the silver. Luka Ellery, Nicola Baker, Courtney Rennie and Jemma James were all part of the New Zealand Under 23 team as well. Last month, Waikato students Bronwyn Walsh, Katie Lush, Grace Lewis and Sarah Best were part of the New Zealand University crew that won the Trans-Tasman championships in Sydney.
The New Zealand World Rowing Championships squad was named this morning, and includes nine University of Waikato rowers.