About Monika Dukarska

Irish High Performance Rowing Athlete.

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My name is Monika and I am representing Ireland in rowing in the Women’s Double Scull category. I was born in Poznan, Poland and I moved to Ireland on the 2nd of November 2006 with my family. I had no word of English which made the transition to Ireland very difficult. Just imagine a 16 year old girl starting 4th year in a new school in a foreign country and on top of it all in a new language?

It was challenging and frustrating, as well as hard work but now I can truly say it - it was worth it. I took up rowing shortly after arriving in Ireland. I attended the Intermediate School in Killorglin where I was approached by few of my class mates to join the local rowing club. From that day Killorglin Rowing Club (KRC) became my second home. KRC was a place where I learned English, made friends and became a person that I am today. My progress at school was slow in contrast with my progress at rowing. It was my first introduction to the sport and I became addicted to it in a very short period of time.

I really enjoyed training, I loved seeing myself improving, getting stronger and seeing my body change. Through rowing I also acquired other skills and characteristics. I became very organised, punctual and also discovered I am a very competitive and determined individual. I am perseverant, hardworking and I strive for perfection. I also learned about nutrition, self-management and working as a part of a team. It was an adventure in itself.

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After only a few months of gym training I went out on the water. Rowing itself was much more difficult than I expected. I had to sit in the boat, hold two oars, move forward, place them into the water at once, then push down my legs and apply the power so that the boat moves as a result.

With time I grasped the above concept but over the years it became much more technical, precise and comprehensive. At that time I thought – yet another challenge to tackle.

Although at the beginning of my rowing career I was awkward and inexperienced my rowing coach Michael G Fleming saw something unique in me. He started to coach me more intensively. I was put into a single scull where I discovered something dreamlike.

I felt the magic of moving the boat by myself, the speed and the sound of the boat running through the water, creating a ripple on the water surface. In the spring of 2007 I raced my first race. I raced the Women’s Single Scull and the Women’s Eight at the Killorglin Head of the River.

The race was held over 4km on the river Laune. With 750m to go to the finish I “crabbed” (dropped the oar) causing the entire eight to stop rowing. I learned another lesson that time – rowing is painful and the other crew members can get really angry – no pressure!. The single scull started to be much more appealing.

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I got over the unpleasant experience pretty quickly, I dusted myself off and turned up for the next training. I was determined not to “crab” again!

Unfortunately it happened again at the Tribesmen Head of the River few months later, where I was close to packing up rowing for good.

I was cold, wet, tired, my hands were covered in blood from scratches and I had 7 very dissatisfied girls in the boat with me. Character building experience!

The rest is history! Single sculling became my trade mark, as an under 18 sculler I started to climb up the national junior ranks pretty quickly.

In 2008 I moved to senior level where I chased some much more experienced scullers. In 2007/ 2008 I took part in my first trial for the national team.

I loved every minute of it. The further I went the more was required of me, the more I had to learn, the more I had to invest. Michael G Fleming kept pushing me on, ensuring that I was making continuous progress.

In 2008 I won my first national title – the Women’s Novice Single Scull. I also raced for Poland at the European Junior Championships (Coupe de la Jaunesse) winning two silver medals in the single.

I also raced for Ireland at the Home International regatta one month later. My rowing career took off from there.

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Over the years I had to balance my studies and rowing which proved to be a hard task but I managed to succeed at both. I rowed through my leaving cert and it was the first exam I actually passed

 I was only living in Ireland a year and a half when I sat my LC exam. I trained through college, as well as my Masters.

I went to Institute of Technology in Tralee in 2008 and I studied Business Studies in Management until 2012.

In 2012 I got a scholarship also at the Institute of Technology Tralee to do Research Masters in Entrepreneurship which I completed in 2014.

The last 8 years in Ireland were full of excitement and hard work. During this time I became the World Coastal Rowing Champion (2009), won numerous national titles and became a triple university rowing champion as well as an Irish international athlete and Olympic helpful. Over this period of time I learned a lot.

I learned to fight to the end (never ever give up!-you will not forgive yourself for doing it), to believe in myself and appreciate what every day has to offer.

Whatever you do, you have to do it for yourself and remember – your brain will quit a thousand times before your body will. You can do it!