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Four Skibbereen Olympic rowers turn their attentions to Henley Regatta

August 8th, 2021 11:20 AM

By Kieran McCarthy

Olympic gold medallist rowers Paul O'Donovan and Fintan McCarthy with Olympic bronze medallist Emily Hegarty at a Skibbereen Rowing Club function in Skibbereen on Monday. (Photo: Anne Minihane)

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SKIBBEREEN’S Olympic-conquering rowers have already set their sights on the next target: the 2021 Henley Regatta in England.

Four of Skibbereen Rowing Club’s six Olympians are planning to compete in the Henley Regatta that runs from August 11th to 15th.

Olympic gold winners Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy, after conquering the world of the lightweight men’s double, will race in the open weight Double Sculls Challenge Cup.

Great Britain double Olympic gold medallist James Cracknell will also be lining up in this race, and Skibbereen’s newest Olympic champion Fintan McCarthy can’t wait for the challenge of racing heavyweights.

‘I’m looking forward to it, definitely. There are some big names in our race. I think James Cracknell is giving it a bash so it will be cool to race against him,’ McCarthy told The Southern Star, but given the world dominance of McCarthy and O’Donovan, perhaps it will be Cracknell who will be looking forward to taking on the two West Cork men.

Gary O’Donovan, a back-up to the Irish lightweight men’s double at the Tokyo Games, will compete in a quad in Henley, along with Irish heavyweights, Philip Doyle, Ronan Byrne and Daire Lynch. Both Doyle and Byrne were in action in the men’s double at the Olympics.

Skibbereen’s Lydia Heaphy is also looking forward to hitting the water in Henley where she will race in the open single for The Princess Royal Challenge Cup.

The Leap woman was the back-up for the Irish lightweight women’s double that finished eighth at the Olympics in Tokyo.

Olympic bronze medallist Emily Hegarty and Aoife Casey, who raced in the Irish lightweight women’s double at the Games, won’t be in action in Henley, but the Irish Rowing Championships, the highlight of the domestic calendar, take place the following weekend, from August 20th to 22nd.

Back home on West Cork soil since last Sunday night, gold medal winner Fintan McCarthy is delighted and relieved that O’Donovan and himself have finished the job and reached their goal.

‘I was more happy that we achieved what we had gone out to achieve,’ McCarthy explained.

‘The words “Olympic champions” don’t mean much but it’s just that we put so much into this to win that race and it paid off. I’m delighted to achieve that, and it made everyone at home so proud.

‘It’s great to be back home as well, we had been gone for so long because we had a camp in Spain before we even flew out to Tokyo, so it’s nice to be back home with family, friends and the club because they have been such a big part of this journey.’

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