Remember the name Sam Voss when Rowing New Zealand names its squad for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

There are no guarantees this far out but Voss announced herself as one to watch this week, winning the world under-23 single sculls championship in Poland.

There's plenty of water to flow under the skiffs but New Zealand have to find scullers for a quad and a single.

Hannah Osborne has filled the single seat this season, vacated by former world champion and three-time Olympian Emma Twigg, but has yet to nail down the job. Cue Voss.


"It was pretty surreal really," the 22-year old said from a beach in Monterosso, near Genoa, this week.

"I really had a goal set on medalling but had to qualify for the A final. Once you do that, it's anyone's game."

Voss and American Emily Kallfelz duelled tightly over the early stages before moving away from the rest of the field.

"I knew she was strong in that [middle] section. It got into the last 500m and I saw she was still there. So I changed gears and off we went. Awesome."

At the finish, Voss had "a big wow moment, more than anything".

"I hoped to be there but I don't think it's hit me a few days later. There is a lot of pride to be there, though."

Early last year, the prospects of that were remote. Voss dislocated an ankle and broke it in three places when a chase boat dropped on her foot. When she returns from her holiday in Europe and England, she has more surgery due but more a tidying up procedure than a major operation.

She started rowing in her last two years at St Peter's School near Cambridge. Her inspiration is mother Cindy, who set a world Masters erg record in her age category.

"She used to row in England at university level. She is who got me into rowing."

Voss admitted to a fondness for the single seat.

"I guess I'm not your typical single sculler when it comes to build, when you have your Emma Twiggs, six foot plus. But I do enjoy it and the challenge and responsibility is on you.

"You just have to go out and give it your best shot. That's very exciting for me."

Voss, the beneficiary of a Prime Minister's Scholarship, is studying for a Bachelor of Health Sport and Human Performance at Waikato University.

It's far too soon to be making solid assumptions but Voss has certainly made an Olympic-sized statement.

Five women are needed to fill those two Olympic crews. The quad has some way to go and Rowing New Zealand didn't sent a crew to Europe for this season's World Cup regattas. Yet the aim is to be represented across the board in Tokyo in all 14 classes.

"Those seats haven't been cemented by anyone, so there's an opportunity to get to Tokyo, but in what boat class, I don't know."