Six Skibb rowers represent Ireland in World Cup regatta
GARY and Paul O’Donovan’s wait for a first World Rowing Cup gold medal in the men’s lightweight double goes on.
The Lisheen brothers had to settle for bronze in the opening World Cup regatta of the season in Belgrade last weekend as they were edged out of silver in a photo finish with Belgium.
The O’Donovans were favourites for gold and after finishing second in their heat, they won their semi-final – but their trademark strong finish was matched by the winners Poland in the final on Sunday morning.
Third at the halfway point and in second place with 500 metres to go, the O’Donovans finished behind Poland and Belgium, coming in one tenth of a second behind the Belgians in 6:14.100.
Afterwards, Gary told World Rowing: ‘Good race, we planned to go off really hard and we made a big push at 1000m to keep up with everyone. Then at 100m to go I shouted at Paul to go for it but the others pulled away.’
It’s an encouraging start to the season at World Cup I for Gary and Paul who finished outside the medals at this same regatta last year.
In total, there were six Skibbereen Rowing Club athletes on the 11-strong Ireland team sent to Belgrade with lots of interest too in the world lightweight pair champions, Mark O’Donovan and Shane O’Driscoll, in their first international regatta in the Olympic-class heavyweight pair.
As expected, they didn’t contend for medals but they will be pleased with placing 15th overall out of a total of 22 entries as they work towards the 2019 world championships where 2020 Olympic qualification will take place.
After finished fourth in their heat and third in the repechage, the Skibb pair competed in the C final on Saturday morning, holding third position for most of the race, finishing ahead of Great Britain (Two) and China.
On Twitter afterwards, Mark O’Donovan said: ‘Lightweight world champions going for a more lucrative objective. It’s a promising start at our first international heavyweight race.’
A second medal made its way back to Ireland when Sanita Puspure won a terrific silver in the A final of the women’s lightweight single sculls, just finishing ahead of Austria and behind world champion Jeannine Gmelin of Switzerland.
Skibb’s Denise Walsh partnered Magaret Cremen in the women’s lightweight double, their first regatta together, and they finished fifth in their heat, third in their repechage and then sixth in their A/B semi-final which put them into the B final on Sunday. They finished sixth here for an overall 12th place finish on their first outing together.
Emily Hegarty, in her first World Cup regatta, teamed up with Aifric Keogh in the women’s pair and after coming third in the heat and fourth in their A/B semi-final, they finished third in the B final, behind Canada and Spain, for a fantastic ninth place overall placing.
New Rowing Ireland CEO, Michelle Carpenter commented: ‘Very positive results this weekend in our first stage of racing in the World Cup series. I feel very proud to see Sanita back on form in her field and hitting targets, as well as seeing Gary and Paul battling it out in a tight finish with the Belgian and Polish crews and continuing to produce medals.
‘I’m also extremely proud of our women’s heavyweight pair and double in their first races together in the international series, as well as our lightweight women’s double. We are on a good pathway now coming into the summer as the world series continues.’