Talented teenage Whanganui rower Niamh Monk is an old head on young shoulders and has her academic and sporting careers locked and loaded over the next four years at Indiana University in the United States.
The 17-year-old Whanganui High School Year 13 student is currently on study leave while sitting her final exams, yet still has time to continue training with the Aramoho Whanganui Rowing Club on the Whanganui River in preparation for North America next year.
After solid seasons at national level, Monk was approached by several North American universities offering scholarships. However, rather than leap at the first offered, Monk investigated further.
"I had a couple approach me, but the further I got into it, the more I discovered,' Monk said.
"After short-listing a few I finally whittled them down and signed with Indiana because of its strong focus on medicine and it is in the top 15 NCAA rowing colleges in the States. I am keen to study something in pre-med because that's where my future career lies, but I also want to achieve things in rowing. That's the beauty of American universities - they offer great opportunities to study while achieving what you want in sport. We don't have those kind of support structures here in New Zealand.
"With rowing you are either all in or all out, but I'm sure I can do both in the US - study alongside a high performance rowing programme."
On December 1 Monk and fellow AWRC club mate Jaimee Bridger will head to the Wairau Rowing Club in Blenheim for the summer to give them one last crack at a national title before heading to university.
"Jaimee is heading to Victoria University in Wellington and I enrol at Indiana in August. Two other Kiwi girls I know from rowing I coming to Indiana with me - Sophie Bowden from Christchurch and Maddy Devery from Petone have also received scholarships. But Jaimee and I decided to team up with the Wairau club in Blenheim for the summer for one last crack at a title at the national club champs in February before we head to uni."
This season just gone the Whanganui High School crew of Zeah Brewer, Niamh Monk, Jaimee Bridger, Ella Dudley and cox Campbell Monk managed an eighth in the girls' under-18 coxed quad A Final at Maadi Cup.
"To have a top 10 finish at Maadi Cup is pretty good," Monk said.
In 2018 Monk was crowned Ray White Whanganui Secondary Schools National Senior Sportswoman of the Year.
Monk had successfully represented WHS and Aramoho Whanganui Rowing Club over that year in both secondary school and club competitions.
At the North v South Under-18 regatta she placed second in the girls' under-18 coxed quadruple sculls and won the girls' under-18 double sculls. At the North Island Secondary Schools, Monk came third in the girls' under-17 coxed quadruple sculls A final and sixth in the girls' under-17 single sculls A final. During the Maadi Cup she placed fourth in the girls' under-17 coxed quadruple sculls A final, eighth in the girls' under-17 single sculls A final and third in the girls' under-17 double sculls B final while she won the North Island Club Championships Women's Club double sculls A final and finished runner-up in the Women's Club coxless quadruple sculls A final.
At the Rocket Foods NZ Rowing Championships she placed eighth in the Women's Club coxless quadruple sculls A final and third in the Women's Club double sculls A final.
Monk joins an ever-increasing list of talented young Whanganui sports girls and boys receiving scholarships in a wide variety of sporting codes to North American universities, including tennis, golf, basketball, athletics, football and rugby.
Whanganui Collegiate rowers Grace Hogan (San Diego) and Laura Francis (Ohio) have taken up scholarships in the last 12 months.