SKIBBEREEN’S Rio-bound rowing brothers believe the consistency they’ve shown this year leaves them in good shape for the summer’s Olympic Games.
Gary and Paul O’Donovan, from Lisheen, finished fourth, just outside the medals, in the A final of the men’s lightweight double sculls final at the third World Cup regatta in Poznan last Sunday – their final race ahead of the Olympics in Brazil.
The Skibbereen Rowing Club stars were honoured with a Celtic Ross West Cork Sports Star of the Month award for May on Tuesday night, in recognition of becoming the first-ever Irish crew to win gold at the European senior rowing championships in Brandenburg last month – and they feel their consistency has elevated them into one of the top crews in the world.
‘We’ve made four A finals this year. Compare that to last year when we made one final, at the European championships, so we’re showing really good consistency. We’re not getting one good result here and there, we’re consistently up there at the pace of the top crews in the world, which we are part of now,’ Gary explained.
‘It was awful to come fourth in Poznan and just miss out on a medal but you need to put that into perspective too because we are training hard at the moment.
‘We haven’t been resting a whole lot while coming into the Olympics we will start backing off a little earlier, and rest moreso than train at that stage.’
The West Cork duo finished fourth in the A final last Sunday in 6:15.460, behind France (6:11.920), Norway (6:14.010) and Italy (6.14.670), and, as Gary explains, they’ve used the four regattas this year to work on tactics and race plans.
‘We had a false start at the beginning of the final, that happens, it didn’t faze us or affect our race. We wanted to win a medal and we wanted to challenge the French guys – they’re top-class and they’ve been winning races by a good margin anytime they have raced. They went off ahead, showed their class and won,’ Gary explained.
‘We wanted to stay with the pack a little more than we have been doing.
‘In the early parts of the races we have been losing maybe three or four seconds on the leaders, whereas here, with the French, Norwegians and Italians, we were only two seconds off them down the middle of the race. We even closed that gap by the finish line.
‘We are trying different things and different tactics as we work on our race-plan because we have the opportunity now to work on our race-plan, rather than at the Olympics. That’s why we took the decision to do as much racing as we could this year, it’s all good practice for us because we are still a relatively new crew in the lightweight men’s double field, so the more practice we get, the better it will stand to us come the Olympics.’
Also at Poznan, Skibbereen’s Denise Walsh won the D final in the lightweight women’s singles, while Shane O’Driscoll and Mark O’Donovan finished fifth in the lightweight men’s pair final.