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Top young Taranaki rower with 'a lot of heart' has future Olympics in her sights

Sophia Hodson is one of the rowing world’s newest up-and-comers, becoming Taranaki’s first female ever to bring home a Maadi Cup title. 

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She became Taranaki’s first ever female to get a Maadi Cup rowing title. Source: Seven Sharp

The Girls Under-17 Single Sculls win is a big deal for her high school, Sacred Heart Girls College, and a huge deal for her local club. 

Started by freezing workers who wanted to row on their day off, the Clifton Rowing Club has been a fixture in Waitara since 1888. 

Now it’s buzzing with excitement at the potential of its rising star. 

“It’s incredible, it’s just brilliant,” club president Gus Berghan told Seven Sharp. 

“You have to have a lot of apple, a lot of heart and Sophia’s certainly got that in spades.” 

The Taranaki teen’s also scored one heck of a coach - Philippa Baker-Hogan. 

She’s a former rowing world champion three times over and a double Olympian. 

“Phillipa came around to school trying to introduce us to rowing and I hated it to be honest,” said Hodson. 

Wanting to spend time with her friends who had taken up the sport, Sophia gave it another shot and from then on she was hooked. 

Even so, she never thought she’d come away with a title at this year’s national championship. 

“I took up the pace and said I’d go for 20 strokes. I got half a boat length ahead in front of everyone and I just thought, yeah, I can do this, it’s fine,” she told Seven Sharp.

“I saw all my friends and I just kept going, it was so cool. They were all yelling.”

Her next goal is the Under-18s with her customised boat she won and one day, like Philippa, the Olympics.