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‘I feel in good shape, the best shape I have been in a while,' says Emily Hegarty ahead of World Cup I

April 11th, 2024 8:30 AM

By Kieran McCarthy

‘I feel in good shape, the best shape I have been in a while,' says Emily Hegarty ahead of World Cup I Image
Emily Hegarty was part of the Irish women's four crew that finished 4th at the World Cup I in Varese.

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AFTER a wait of 566 days since she last rowed for Ireland, Emily Hegarty will make her comeback at World Cup I in Italy this Friday.

The Skibbereen rower’s last international race was on September 24th, 2022 at that year’s World Rowing Championships, and having missed the entire 2023 season through injury, Hegarty is itching to get back in the boat again this weekend.

‘At the beginning of the season I wasn’t sure where I would end up so I’m delighted to be back racing,’ the Tokyo Olympic medallist told The Southern Star.

Named in a new-look Irish women’s four alongside Natalie Long (Lee Valley RC), Eimear Lambe (Old Collegians BC) and Imogen Magner (Carlow RC), Hegarty and Co have a big few weeks ahead of them.

They will race in World Cup I in Varese this weekend (Friday to Sunday) with everything building towards the final Olympic qualification regatta in Lucerne in mid-May – that is their last chance to qualify the Irish women’s four for the Games in Paris this summer.

World Cup I this weekend will provide an update of where this Irish quartet stand in the race for Paris.

‘We haven’t raced internationally as a crew so we want to get a taste of where we are at because we will be up against two of the medallists from the Worlds last year, as well as two or three crews that haven’t qualified for the Olympics yet,’ Hegarty explained.

‘In our race pieces in the last few weeks we can see we are improving week on week, so this will be a good building block and starting point, regardless of the result this week. Obviously we want to do well, but it’s not the be-all and end-all because there are bigger goals.’

Hegarty wasn’t involved in the Irish women’s four that finished ninth overall at the 2023 Worlds and missed out on automatic qualification for the Olympics. The Danish four that finished eighth overall, and also missed out, will be in action at World Cup I so it will be interesting to see how both crews compare against one another.

The qualification regatta in Lucerne is the target, and Hegarty can lean on her experience in 2021 pre-Tokyo – the Irish women’s four, which also included Eimear Lambe, booked their tickets for that summer’s Olympics through the last-chance saloon regatta, and then went on to win bronze medals at the Games.

‘I definitely think that experience will help because it’s a very daunting regatta to head into,’ Hegarty said.

‘We had a good experience last time and know what to expect now, the highs and the lows it brings. Our experience was a positive one and because we have done it before, we know what we need to do. This is a different crew to Tokyo, but the goal is still the same. It’s building every day, we’re supporting each other and it’s heading in the right direction,’ added the Skibb rower who feels she’s almost back to her best following last year’s back injury troubles.

‘I feel in good shape, the best shape I have been in a while. From times in trials, I am not a million miles away from my best either, so it’s exciting. On the water, there is the technical element, and I missed out on 12 months of that, but it’s all coming together now,’ Hegarty added, as she dips her oars back in the water for Ireland again this weekend.

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