‘My seat in the Irish lightweight double isn’t guaranteed at all’ – Paul O'Donovan

August 21st, 2020 1:47 PM

By Kieran McCarthy

Paul and Gary O’Donovan at a launch this week after Visa announced the extension of their support to the Skibbereen duo for next year's Olympic Games.

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WHILE the general belief is that the make-up of the Olympic-bound Irish lightweight men’s double will be Paul O’Donovan plus one more, he is keen to stress that he’s not guaranteed his seat.

Four-time world champion Paul appears to be odds-on to keep his seat in the Irish double and the battle for the remaining seat involves four more Skibbereen rowers – his older brother Gary, twins Fintan and Jake McCarthy, and Shane O’Driscoll.

At the 2019 senior Worlds, the combination of Paul and Fintan won gold and qualified the double for the Olympics, which will take place in the summer of 2021.

Before that, it was Paul and Gary for four years in the double and speaking to Off The Ball this week, after the announcement that Visa are extending their support for the Skibb duo until the 2021 Olympics, Paul explained how the Irish pairing for the Games in Tokyo will be decided next year.

‘It will just come down to the times, we will go out and race all the combinations and at the end of the day whoever has the best time out of all the combinations will be the crew regardless of how things feel. If things feel like rubbish and it’s the fastest time, why would you not pick the fastest time,’ Paul said.

‘Secondly, my seat in the boat isn’t guaranteed at all, at all. It’s just that I have maintained it over the past couple of years but it’s still up for grabs, if someone can come along and beat me out of it so I have to watch my back too.’

Gary then added: ‘Interestingly enough, just before Covid when we did some testing, myself, Shane, Fintan and Jake were all closer to Paul then any of us had ever been in any of the previous years so it’s getting tighter.

‘Paul is still number one, but it’s getting closer which is good for the team as a whole and it’s good for the Olympic lightweight double for Ireland.’

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