BALLINCOLLIG'S Sanita Puspure and Midleton's Orlagh Farmer were honoured at
Puspure successfully defended her European title in Poznan last year and will be among the leading contenders at the 2021 Olympics.
Despite having her training regime seriously disrupted and the European Championships being her first competitive event of the year, Puspure was in total control of the single sculls by the halfway stage and cruised to a comfortable victory of over Austrian Magdalena Lobnig and Anneta Kyridou of Greece.
The victory was all the more impressive given last year’s Sportswoman of the Year told RTÉ she had found training alone a real challenge.
“As an athlete it was very hard because we're so used to that competitive environment in training - that's what keeps us going and pushes us every day. The intention to train well was there but I don't think I did because subconsciously there was no motivation to push myself to the very limit of what I could have done.”
Despite those lockdown struggles, the Cork-based rower, who is 39, produced the goods yet again to claim her sixth major international medal.
Another Corkonian recognised at the prestigious awards, now in their 17th year, was Gaelic footballer Orlagh Farmer.
The Midleton native spent lockdown devising instructive and fun programmes aimed at encouraging young girls to continue playing sport. It tied in perfectly with her PhD, which focuses on the reasons why so many young girls drop out at an early age.
Farmer explained: "It could be through boredom, coaches being too strict, the girls just lacking confidence. What came through massively in my research is that fun and enjoyment are the biggest motivators for them staying in sport."
Farmer created a series of online videos largely aimed at those girls, the sessions combining lessons in the basic skills of football with everything from dancing to Tai Chi, all designed to make them both instructive and fun.
The undisputed world lightweight champion enjoyed a highly successful 2020, defending her titles against Belgian rival Delfine Persoon and Miriam Gutierrez from Spain.
Accepting the award from her US base in Connecticut, she said: “These have definitely been the most enjoyable few years of my whole career and this is coming after my lowest point as well, the Rio Olympics, so it really has been an amazing few years.”
The Outstanding Contribution Award went to former soccer international star Olivia O’Toole, the most capped Irish women’s international soccer player of all time, who represented her country 130 times in a career which stretched from 1991 to 2009, hitting a record 54 goals.