Southland teen Shakira Mirfin in world champion rowing crew

Shakira Mirfin, second from right, of Southland Girls' High School on the podium in Tokyo after New Zealand won the women's quadruple sculls at the world junior rowing championships.
Rowing New Zealand
Shakira Mirfin, second from right, of Southland Girls' High School on the podium in Tokyo after New Zealand won the women's quadruple sculls at the world junior rowing championships.

Southland teenager Shakira Mirfin is a world junior rowing champion.

Mirfin, 17, was part of  New Zealand's junior women's quadruple sculls team that won gold at the Junior World Championships in Tokyo, Japan, on Sunday.

"Pretty happy, pretty crazy", she said soon after the race.

Southland Girls' High School student Shakira Mirfin is a world junior rowing champion [file photo].
John Hawkins
Southland Girls' High School student Shakira Mirfin is a world junior rowing champion [file photo].

"Definitely all the hard work has paid off."

Her quad team had shown speed in the heats and semifinals and kept their composure under pressure in the final, with Germany claiming silver and Romania bronze.

"We just all wanted it and we trusted each other, even when the other  boats were coming at us we were able to push away," she said.

It was one of the hardest races she had been involved in, with a celebration dinner and visit to a karaoke bar planned.

Her Invercargill-based coach, Jack Allan said the victory was fantastic news, but not a surprise given the strong form of the girls leading into the final.

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Allan, a renowned Southland rowing coach who is currently at Karapiro coaching the New Zealand under-21 women, said he understood it was the first win for a New zealand team at the world junior rowing championships in about four years.

Mirfin, a member of the Invercargill Rowing club, had a strong work ethic and a "hell of a lot of grit and determination", he said.

"She just gets on and does the hard work."     

Earlier this year she won the girls' under-17 single sculls at the Maadi Cup on Lake Karapiro. The event is the New Zealand secondary schools' rowing championships.   

Rowing was not the only sport Mirfin, a Southland Girls' High School student, excelled in.

She had won one Oceania and two national titles during five years of BMX riding, where she also competed in a world championships. 

Academy Southland manager Jason McKenzie said Mirfin's rowing victory was "pretty amazing", given she still had another year to go in the juniors grade.

"First trip there and to do that is pretty impressive."

He also highlighted her work ethic for special mention.

"Often it's a matter of slowing her down." 

"We talk about [sportspeople] having talent, passion and work ethic, she displays all those things.

"She takes advantage of every opportunity, it's a great example of chipping away in Southland."

Mirfin and Allan made for a great rower-coach combination, McKenzie said.

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