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Skibb rowers lose their funding

February 16th, 2019 6:25 PM

By Kieran McCarthy

Former world rowing champions Mark O'Donovan and Shane O'Driscoll.

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FORMER world rowing champions Mark O’Donovan and Shane O’Driscoll will have to dip into their own savings to fund their 2020 Olympic dream.

The Skibbereen Rowing Club pair were gutted to learn that they have lost their Sport Ireland International Carding Scheme funding, which was worth €20,000 each to them.

Mark and Shane hope to qualify in the men’s pair for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, and they get the first opportunity to book their place there at this year’s World Rowing Championships in Austria – but now their preparations have been severely hit by the loss of the badly-needed funding.

‘It puts myself and Shane in a very hard position now,’ Mark said.

‘We don’t have a penny coming in, in what’s a very important year because it’s an Olympic qualification year.’

There appears to be confusion surrounding Mark and Shane’s eligibility for Sport Ireland funding. While the popular Skibb men, who dominated the world of lightweight pair rowing in 2017, insist that they are eligible, a Sport Ireland official told The Southern Star that Mark and Shane didn’t meet the necessary criteria.

‘This is a kick in the teeth for us,’ Mark admitted. ‘Whatever savings I have will be eaten into very fast.

‘We are chasing a dream here. We feel we can qualify for an Olympics and we are working really hard every day – that’s why the funding is so important for us. It’s effectively our wage.’ Mark and Shane plan to appeal the decision.

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