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Christmas comes early for Skibbereen rowers as lightweight category will be kept for 2024 Olympics in Paris

December 13th, 2020 2:00 PM

By Kieran McCarthy

Ireland's Gary and Paul O'Donovan celebrate winning a silver medal in the men's lightweight double sculls at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

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CHRISTMAS came early to Skibbereen Rowing Club’s international stars this week when it was confirmed that lightweight rowing WILL be included in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

It was widely expected that lightweight rowing would be dropped from the Olympic schedule – due to athlete quotas – and that the upcoming Games in Tokyo would be its swansong, so this week’s great news comes as a huge and welcome surprise to lightweight rowers.

‘The good news here is that the lightweights get one more Olympic Games, and that there was no reduction in the number of events. Lightweight rowing is a massively popular category of our sport and hopefully this comes as great news to lightweight rowing community all around the world,’ World Rowing President Jean-Christophe Rolland confirmed this week.

Skibbereen Rowing Club has a rich tradition in Olympic lightweight rowing. In 2016 Gary and Paul O’Donovan won Ireland’s first-ever Olympic rowing medal in the Irish men’s lightweight double at the Games in Rio. Before them, Eugene Coakley, Richard Coakley and Timmy Harnedy all represented Ireland as lightweight rowers at the Games.

Currently, Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy are World men’s lightweight double champions and the Irish boat is ranked as a serious medal contender at next summer’s rescheduled Olympics.

Gary O’Donovan and Shane O’Driscoll are also in the Irish men’s lightweight training group, while Aoife Casey and Lydia Heaphy are part of the Irish women’s lightweight squad, with Dominic Casey overseeing Rowing Ireland’s talented lightweight squad.

So, with two more Olympics to look forward to, Skibb’s elite rowers are here to stay for a little bit longer.

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