COMING off the back of an impressive showing at the European Rowing Championships last month, Skibbereen rower Aoife Casey is targeting Olympic qualification this weekend.
Casey (22) and Rochestown rower Margaret Cremen finished fifth in the A final of the lightweight women’s double at the Europeans – and that was a timely boost ahead of this weekend’s regatta in Lucerne.
Here, a top-three finish will qualify the Irish lightweight women’s double for this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo, but it will be ultra competitive as 16 crews are vying for those three places.
Australia, China, South Africa and the USA are all sending crews, but Casey and Cremen will take a lot of confidence from the speed they showed at the Europeans when they finished fifth overall and ahead of crews from Russia, Poland, Greece, Germany, Denmark and Spain who will all be in action, too, in Lucerne.
Speaking recently on the Star Sport Podcast, 2016 Irish Olympic rower Claire Lambe said: ‘(At the Europeans) they showed a big progression from last year. They finished seventh last year but they were in the race this year to finish fifth – and those four boats ahead of them have already qualified for the Olympics and would also be A final standard going into the Games. They really put down a good marker.
‘It will still be really tough for them but they showed really good speed at the Europeans and with a bit of luck on their side they could be in contention for one of the places.’
Another Skibbereen rower, Lydia Heaphy, is also part of the Rowing Ireland lightweight women’s squad, and given their young age profile the Paris Olympics in 2024 is a more realistic target – but they have an outside chance in Lucerne.