Moving across the world and leaving your home, family and friends is something most people would never conside. For senior Peta-Leigh Dakyns, it was the decision of a lifetime and one she does not regret.
Dakyns, a Johannesburg, South Africa, native, had always seen rowing in her future. At age 10, Dakyns began to row as part of her schooling. She rowed for St. Mary’s School for Girls from 1998-2005 and ended her career with a long list of accomplishments. Dakyns won gold in back-to-back years and won the silver medal three times in South African school championships.
In her senior year, she was approached to try out for the South African national team. Once on the team, Dakyns and the South African Junior World Championship crew placed sixth in Germany in 2005. It was here that Dakyns’ road to Ohio State began.
“I hadn’t planned on going overseas to row,” Dakyns said. “I was leary because I was planning on going to college with my high school friends at home. I weighed the pros and cons. It was an opportunity I didn’t want to regret later in life and decided to try it.”
Dakyns began her freshman season at Ohio State in 2006. The transition for her was not easy for the first few months. She missed her family, home and familiar culture. But, with time, she realized home was just a phone call away.
The transition did not affect her rowing, though. Dakyns rowed in the First Varsity Four and the crew finished third in the Grand Final of the NCAA championships.
“At first it was hard,” Dakyns said on the shift rowing in the U.S. “Trying to understand the importance of certain races and it was a totally different racing system. It was hard to understand about the Big Ten championships and regionals. I wanted to win races from the start, but I found out more of the meanings of each race. At nationals, I had great people in my boat and it was great to place so well at nationals. It took a lot of hard work.”
As a sophomore, Dakyns moved into the Second Varsity Eight, but sat out during the post season because of injury. Returning healthy for her junior season, Dakyns and the rest of the Second Varsity Eight were unstoppable in the regular season, finishing with a 10-0 record. During postseason action, the crew placed among the Top 3 at the Big Ten championships and won the Grand Final race at the Central/South Region Sprints to make its way to the NCAA championships.
The Second Varsity Eight and Dakyns ended the season with a runner-up finish in the Grand Final of the NCAA championships. The finish serves as an all-time best by a Buckeye Second Varsity Eight.
“I wasn’t sure where I was going to be as a junior after my injury,” Dakyns said. “I was put in a great boat with awesome teammates. We had a great season and nationals were awesome. We had a great race and did the best we could. It is something to be proud of.”
Dakyns ended her junior season on a high note and started her senior season on one, too. She was named captain by her teammates to start her final year as a Buckeye.
“It was quite a surprise for me,” Dakyns said. “It was not something you expect. I’ve learned a lot with life lessons and goals. It is nice to have the support of my teammates and know they trust me to help lead them to national championships. It is nice to see my teammates want me to lead them to our goals this season.”
Along with her new title as captain, Dakyns was named to the First Varsity Eight. Finishing the regular season strong, the 1V8 placed third at the Big Ten championships and is one of 16 teams competing at nationals this weekend.
With her rowing career at Ohio State coming to a close, Dakyns has many fond memories and accomplishments. Her decision to move around the world may not have been an easy one, but it is definitely one she does not regret.