CORK and Ireland’s most successful rowers will be unable to compete at the Rowing World Cup II in Austria today due to a lack of funding.
Those affected include Sanita Pušpure, a Latvian-born rower living in Ballincollig, who won gold in the B final of the Women’s Single Sculls in the competition last year and Olympians Gary and Paul O’Donovan who claimed silver in the Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls A Final.
A lack of government funding has left Rowing Ireland with no choice but to abandon this year’s tournament, leaving the athletes unable to defend their medals at this year’s event in Austria from June 21 to 24.
“It’s hugely disappointing for the team of rowers and for Rowing Ireland,” said TJ Ryan, Rowing Ireland board member.
“The problem is, we have had the same amount of funding for the past few years now but an increased demand and interest in rowing across Ireland. “We have to cater for more people with the same limited funding,” he added.
“We brought a team of around five senior rowers to the Olympics in Rio. Now we’re bringing around 11 senior rowers and maybe 11 or 12 at under 23 level, and we’re expected to do this with the same funding when it can cost upwards of €40,000 to attend tournaments.”
Mr Ryan said that the team were forced to save funds for World Cup III, which takes place in July, which they will be able to attend.
West Cork TD Michael Collins (Ind) raised the issue in Dáil recently, calling on the government to ensure Ireland’s rowers are properly funded when they represent this country abroad.
He described the lack of funding as a disgrace.
“We have world-class rowers for the Skibbereen Rowing Club who showcase the talent this country has to offer every time they travel,” Deputy Collins said.
“However, Rowing Ireland is getting the same funding from the government as they did back in 2017.
“This is a disgrace and needs to be rectified immediately,” he added.