GARY O’Donovan has conceded that he’s unlikely to force his way back into the Irish lightweight men’s double ahead of the Olympics.
One half of the O’Donovan brothers that wowed the world with Olympic silver at the 2016 Games in Rio, and that also won World gold in 2018, Gary lost his seat in the Irish double to Fintan McCarthy in 2019 and was unable to wrestle it back in the recent trials.
At the European Rowing Championships Gary finished fourth in the A final of the lightweight men’s single last Sunday morning, with his late surge in the final 500 metres not enough to catapult him into the medals.
Meanwhile, the double of Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy powered to gold to all but rubberstamp them as the combination that will represent Ireland at the Tokyo Olympics in the summer.
‘In my mind I’ll be trying to make the single go as fast as I can,’ Gary told RTÉ Sport.
‘I don’t think there will be much of an opportunity for me to get back in the double because the guys are going so well. That’s a testament to them and fair play, they are going really, really well.
‘I think that opportunity is probably gone at this stage. I’ll just keep on tipping away, doing my best to improve and go as fast as I can. If something goes wrong I’ll be there as a back-up, and I can hopefully do a good job if that happens. Just for me for the time being, it’s about going as fast as I can in the single and doing as well as I can for the next regatta.’
Gary sat in sixth place for most of last Sunday’s A final of the lightweight men’s single before a late push saw him pass out the German and Spanish boats, but there was clear water to the top three and not enough time to reel them in. Gary’s time of 7:05.82 was two seconds behind Poland’s Artur Mikolajczewski in third place, while Italy’s Gabriel Soares took silver and Hungary’s Peter Galambos won gold in 7:01.52.
At the 2019 Europeans when he also raced in the single he finished 16th overall so his fourth place last Sunday does represent progress as he moved closer to the medals.
‘It would have been nice to win, I was trying to do as well as I could. I had an alright race. It wasn’t my best race ever. It’s a step in the right direction compared to my previous international races in the single. I am much closer to the top guys now than I was before,’ Gary explained.
‘My rowing down the middle of the race isn’t great. I’m not finding that good rhythm and that good connection with the water that I’d like to find, which is a little disappointing because I feel if I can get that right and row a bit better I think I can go faster.’