Winning gold at world champs still sinking in

You may not believe the story behind Eva Hofmans' latest gold medal.

That is fine, though - neither can she.

The 17-year-old Bayfield High School pupil returned to Dunedin yesterday.

Her world junior championships medal hung proudly around her neck as she was greeted by family and friends.

It was four days since she won gold with the New Zealand quadruple sculls crew.

But it still had not sunk in.

It has been a rather rapid rise after all.

She only began rowing in October 2016 and has had just two seasons out of racing as a novice.

After 18 months she was already learning French for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Perhaps that may have seemed a dream at the time.

Now she has ticked off the first step in the pathway she had laid out to get there.

Eva Hofmans was greeted by schoolmates at Dunedin Airport yesterday as she returned from a gold...
Eva Hofmans was greeted by schoolmates at Dunedin Airport yesterday as she returned from a gold medal-winning performance at the junior rowing world championships. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
She has not lost sight of that bigger picture.

While the French lessons have gone by the wayside in recent months, that can perhaps be forgiven.

Despite all that, she is able to appreciate how incredible a rise it is.

"I didn't even play sport this time three years ago," she said.

"To be world champion in rowing, which is one of the hardest sports I could possibly imagine doing, I can't even believe it."

Hofmans was "ecstatic" to be home and to see the welcome she got at the airport.

She had left for an eight-week training camp in Cambridge on June 2, before flying direct to Japan.

The experience had been a great one and she had learnt plenty competing alongside the country's top young rowers.

She said she was thrilled to come back with a gold medal, as that had been the team's goal heading into the championships.

"We knew from the prognostics we were getting in training for the past three months that our times for 2km were in medal contention.

"We knew all the training we'd done and all we had to do on race day was to control our minds.

"Mentally it was the toughest thing I've ever done - but it paid off.

"Being in a crew with other people, it's much different than being by yourself - you can share the load."

The crew's coach, Hannah Starnes, had written a letter three weeks out, which she then read to them before the final.

Each member was given a quarter of the race to focus on and make their own.

Hofmans' focus was to be the first 500m and she concentrated on being strong throughout that.

The crew got a good start and shot out to a lead.

However, knowing the middle kilometre could be crucial, it focused on getting as far ahead as possible.

It saved a kick for the end though, knowing the third-placed Romanians were strong finishers.

While Hofmans is home and supposed to be taking a three-week break, she will delay that slightly.

She is set to compete in a long-distance race on Otago Harbour on Sunday.

"I just want to get back in the single, and see all the rowing people I know that will be in that race."


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