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World champ Paul O’Donovan set to race at Irish Rowing Championships in August

July 19th, 2021 8:30 AM

By Kieran McCarthy

Paul O'Donovan during a Tokyo Team Ireland announcement for rowing at the National Rowing Centre in Cork. (Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile)

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FOUR-TIME World champion Paul O’Donovan intends to race at the Irish Rowing Championships next month.

The Skibbereen rower is currently in Tokyo ahead of the Olympics that start at the end of the week where Fintan McCarthy and himself are tipped for glory in the men’s lightweight double. The Games have his full attention right now, but O’Donovan also plans to compete at the nationals for the first time since 2017.

Because of his international commitments every year and how the rowing calendar falls – and it’s the same for all Skibb’s senior international rowers – O’Donovan has missed most national championships in recent times.

This year, however, the 27-year-old is set to race at the championships that will take place in the National Rowing Centre in Inniscarra from August 20th to 22nd.

‘The plan is to race the championships if we can. They are the third weekend in August. We’ll have to start focussing on them now pretty soon. Once this Japan regatta is over with, that will be the big regatta then,’ O’Donovan said.

Given that the 2021 World Rowing Championships due to be held in Shanghai in October have been cancelled, the nationals will represent the last big event of the year. It’s expected that all of Skibbereen’s Olympians will compete at the Irish Rowing Championships next month, but their full focus now is on the Games that start on Friday, July 23rd.

The rowing action will take place at the Sea Forest Waterway located in Tokyo Bay. It’s one of the few international regatta courses on salt water, but O’Donovan doesn’t believe that will cause any problems.

‘Growing up in Skibbereen we have a lot of work done on salt water. Out in Brazil, at the 2016 Olympics, it was a salt water lake we were rowing on, too.

‘I think they say the salt water makes it even a bit quicker as there is more buoyancy and lift in the boats which reduces the drag.

‘If the wind is right there might be some quick times,’ the 2016 Olympic silver medallist explained.

Having spent the previous three weeks on a training camp in Banyoles, Spain, the Irish lightweight rowing gang is now in Tokyo ahead of their opening races on Saturday week. It will be hot and humid in Japan, but the experienced O’Donovan won’t be fazed by the conditions.

‘It’s going to very hot and humid, and that’s why we were in Spain on a training camp,’ he explained.

‘We’ve supplemented that with a bit of work in the sauna after training so we get a bit of extra heat stress.

‘In terms of the weather variables, it’s supposed to be quite windy there at times. We are used to that at home. In the afternoons in Banyoles the wind picked up a bit so we are well used to that.’

Whatever the conditions, O’Donovan is primed and ready.

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