LYDIA Heaphy is predicting a bright future for the Irish lightweight women’s double.
The Skibbereen rower and Margaret Cremen just missed out on a medal in the A final at the recent European Rowing Championships.
Courageous and brave, the Irish boat stormed into an early lead in a stacked field. They were up against three of the top four boats from the A final at last summer’s Tokyo Olympics – gold medallists Italy, silver medallists France and fourth-placed Great Britain.
For context, this was Heaphy and Cremen’s second senior international regatta together. At World Cup II in Poznan in June, they won a bronze medal.
By the halfway stage last Sunday, the Irish boat sat in third. They were still there with 500 metres to go, but then the Italians moved through into bronze position, and stayed there. The Irish double battled to the line and finished fourth in 7:37.51, less than a second behind the Italians (7:36.87). Great Britain (7:27.82) took gold, with France (7:33.33) in second.
‘I am incredibly proud of what we just did,’ Leap woman Heaphy said.
‘We were .7 of a second off beating the Olympic champions. We went out brave, we gave it our best race and we couldn’t have asked for anymore.
‘Lightweight women’s doubles are really, really tight, and we are at the races. Once we get a bit more experience I have no doubt that we will get there.’
Heaphy and Cremen is a new combination in the double, with Cremen partnered by Aoife Casey at last year’s Olympics. There is potential for huge improvement, Heaphy feels.
‘This is only our second regatta together in this cycle, we are growing in every regatta and growing in every race. We got a bronze medal in Poznan, but the competition here is a step up, and I think we stepped up with the competition,’ she said.
‘I’ve no doubt that with a bit more experience, more races and getting more comfortable sitting with the best in the world that we will really strive too.’
The Irish lightweight double finished second in their heat before winning the repechage at the Europeans, en route to the A final.