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Sophia wins Secondary Schools rowing title, and a $12k boat at the Maadi Cup

Sophia Hodson, 16, ‘’smoked’’ the opposition in her single scull win on Lake Karapiro.

And in doing so she won Taranaki’s first New Zealand Secondary School rowing title since 1962, when a coxed eight from New Plymouth Boys’ High School won the Maadi Cup.

‘’It’s crazy. It’s still pretty surreal,’’ she said.

Sophia, who is in Year 12 at Sacred Heart Girls’ College in New Plymouth, won the 2021 New Zealand Secondary Schools Girls Under Seventeen Single Scull, beating nearest rival Emma Averill, from Otumoetai College Tauranga, by 6:43 seconds.

The result shocked Sophia, who went into the final with the fourth fastest time.

‘’Watching the race back is really different. I can see how far ahead I was, but in the race she was right there.’’

Sophia, who has been rowing for two years, said at the beginning of the race she could see a girl in Lane 1 ahead of her.

‘’She was coming first by quite a bit. I wasn’t really panicked, but I was aware she was quite far ahead. So, at the 1K I did 20 hard strokes and went faster. Then I realised I could maintain it. And then, with about 500 to go, I took it up a bit.’’

Her legs were gone by the first kilometre, she said.

‘’It was all in my mind. And I’d prepared for that because your body does what your mind tells it to. I just had to remember that.’’

That piece of wisdom was given to her by her mother, Joan Hodson (nee Solia), a former top level netballer who won the world champs with the Silver Ferns in 1987.

Sophia's long-term goal is the Olympics, but she is now focusing on an upcoming under-18 trial to get into a quad or eight to row for the North Island.

This year was the largest Maadi Cup event, with 2432 rowers entered across 50 events. And there were 41 entrants in Sophia’s race, coach Philippa Baker-Hogan said.

‘’It’s a revered event. Sophia is a special athlete. She’s got the x factor.

‘’If you give her a sniff of a win she’s going to take it and that’s what she did. She raced a very intelligent race for a 16-year-old girl in a very big tough final. She just put the foot down, and they couldn’t keep up with her.

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