She may be a rower but ex-Northlander Shannon Cox is moving through New Zealand's rowing age-group squads with a hop, skip and a jump.

The Whangārei-raised rower, now based in Christchurch, has been selected to represent New Zealand at the World Rowing under-23 Championships in the United States this year, picked as the sole member competing in the women's under-23 lightweight single scull.

Less than a year earlier, Cox had been selected for an under-21 high performance squad and was now moving up through the ranks. The team selected to compete at the global event were judged from a five-day trials session at Lake Karapiro last week.

Representing the Avon Rowing Club in Christchurch and training out of the elite Southern rowing performance centre, Cox will be based in Cambridge as of next month to train with the rest of the over 20-person squad before they leave in mid-July for the competition later that month.


"It's pretty exciting because I wasn't expecting to be selected," Cox said.

"It's nice to know that they thought I was good enough, especially in single sculls."

Usually entered in the singles, doubles and quad events, Cox said it would be a big change for her, committing to the singles event for winter training.

"The mental part of it will be huge, being in a single all winter, because you usually get to change between the different races.

"I'm pretty good at motivating myself so hopefully I'll do pretty well."

The lightweight single sculls required the rower to weigh under 58 kilograms and race within a certain timeframe of the world record time for the division in order to qualify. In what was a hard week of training in Karapiro, Cox did well to be able to stand out from an already impressive field.

"It was a tough week when your body just gets tired but you just have to keep pushing through it," she said.

"I was pretty stoked because every day, I was getting better and better, getting times that I've never done before so I definitely peaked at the right time."

Not only did she see success at Karapiro, but Cox announced herself to the country as a talent to watch, claiming first as a member of the women's under-22 coxless quad sculls with a time of 7:13.86.

After earning a place in a national under-21 High Performance squad last year, Cox will make her debut in the under-23 division when she competes in the world championships in July. Photo / File
After earning a place in a national under-21 High Performance squad last year, Cox will make her debut in the under-23 division when she competes in the world championships in July. Photo / File

She also qualified for the women's premier lightweight single sculls A final, which was open to all ages, and finished fifth with a time of 9:31.70. Just to make the final was a great achievement for Cox, who was up against some of the best names in her division such as Jackie Kiddle and Zoe McBride.

While she was happy with a strong and expected win by about 20 seconds in the quad event, Cox believed she could have done better in the singles had the event started on time.

"To be honest, I wasn't really happy with it because the conditions weren't the best which didn't suit me.

"Racing was put off all day on finals day because of the wind which meant our race was delayed from 9am and wasn't started until 6pm, which put me off a bit."

Under the tutelage of coach Josh Schmidt, Cox hoped she would be ready to train as hard as she could during her time at Cambridge which brought with it, feelings of trepidation and excitement.

"Every time we got to Cambridge, it's pretty inspiring getting to be in the same environment, training with them.

"It just gives you a good feeling that you're making your way up ranks and hopefully be one of them one day."

She didn't have any idea as to how she would compete at the world championships in July, but she was confident she wouldn't buckle under the pressure.

"I usually deal with pressure well, at the under-23 selection trials, they put us under pressure the whole time to see how we worked and I thought I coped with it pretty well.

"I've never done a world championships before so I don't really know where I'm based against the others but I'd like to make the A finals and if I do better than that, then that's good."

Still relatively young in her rowing career, Cox said if she performed well in this competition, it could see her join the top national squad for the summer.

"Making the final would give me a good shot at making the squad, but it depends on how fast my time is so if I get a good time they might be impressed with it."