PAUL O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy can qualify the Irish men’s lightweight double for the 2020 Olympic Games this Thursday.
The Skibbereen duo were convincing winners of their quarter-final at the World Rowing Championships in Linz, Austria, on Wednesday as they powered through to the A/B semi-finals that will be held on Thursday morning.
Second at the halfway mark, Paul and Fintan soon took control and they won by two clear seconds over Spain with Poland in third, and the Irish double looks in good shape to take one of the seven Olympic qualification places on offer.
The top three in both of Thursday’s A/B semi-finals will go through to the A final but they will also secure Olympic qualification, so Paul and Fintan know that a top-three finish qualifies the boat for Tokyo 2020. The bottom three in both semis go through to the B final where the winner will take the seventh qualification place on offer. Paul and Fintan were also convincing winners of their opening heat in Linz on Sunday, finishing three seconds in front of Switzerland in second place.
Skibbereen’s Emily Hegarty is also in contention for Olympic qualification. She is part of the Irish women’s four – along with Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe and Tara Hanlon – that will take part in the A/B semi-finals on Thursday morning. They finished second in their repechage on Tuesday, finishing just behind China. The Irish four knows that a top-eight finish will qualify the boat for the 2020 Olympics.
There are also several other Skibbereen rowers representing Ireland at the worlds, including Gary O’Donovan in the lightweight men’s single sculls. Gary produced a brilliant finish to finish third in his quarter-final on Wednesday to qualify for Thursday’s A/B semi-finals. His late sprint to the finish line saw him go from a fifth-place position to third place, just narrowly beating Serbia, Germany and New Zealand. Gary had comfortably won his repechage earlier in the week after finishing fourth in his opening heat.
Aoife Casey and Denise Walsh’s 2020 Olympic hopes ended on Wednesday when they finished fourth in their quarter-final of the lightweight women’s doubles. A top three finish would have seen the Skibb women into the A/B semis and left them in the hunt for an Olympic qualification spot but they finished four seconds off the Italian boat in third place. They’ll now race in the C/D semi-finals on Thursday.
Earlier in the week Skibbereen’s Lydia Heaphy finished third in her lightweight women’s single sculls repechage to qualify for Thursday’s A/B semi-final. Lydia finished third, less than one second behind the Australian winner.
There was disappointment for the Skibbereen Rowing Club duo of Shane O’Driscoll and Mark O’Donovan in the Olympic class men’s pair on Monday when they finished third in their repechage. It meant they narrowly missed out by less than a second to the Greece pair, who took second place behind the Chilean boat. Mark and Shane will now race in the E final on Thursday, they will be competing with crews from, Cuba, Hungary and Lithuania.
Also, Skibb’s Jake McCarthy and the Irish men’s quad will compete in the B final on Friday after they finished fifth in their repechage on Tuesday and missed out on the A final.