BY KIERAN McCARTHY
HE’S been there, done that and has the memories that will last a life-time – and former Irish Olympic rower Richard Coakley is urging West Cork’s four 2016 Olympians to soak up every second of their amazing adventure.
Skibbereen rowers Gary and Paul O’Donovan and Kinsale’s Irish hockey stars David and Conor Harte will all fly their home flag with pride over the next few weeks at the Games in Rio.
Coakley himself represented Skibbereen Rowing Club, his home town, West Cork and Ireland at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and while he had been named as a reserve, he raced in the B final as the Irish lightweight four finished tenth overall.
‘It’s crazy that it’s already eight years since Beijing,’ Coakley told The Southern Star from Australia where he has lived since 2010.
‘Competing at the Olympics is definitely one of my favourite sporting memories and my greatest achievement.
‘It is something that every sportsman or sportswoman dreams of their whole life. It is always great to see peoples’ reactions if they find out that you competed at the Olympics.
‘My only advice is to enjoy it and savour the experience.’
As for Gary and Paul O’Donovan, and their coach Dominic Casey, all three who Coakley knows well from his time with Skibbereen’s famed rowing club, one of Skibb’s three previous Olympic rowers – along with his older brother Eugene and Tim Harnedy – is backing the town’s current Olympians to ‘nail it’.
‘Even though they’re young, Paul and Gary have a world of experience. They will be just trying to stay relaxed and not get too carried away. They will be just focusing on their own performance and if they can produce their 100 per cent the results will come. Dominic and the lads are very relaxed guys and I’m sure they will nail it,’ Coakley said.