Cork rower Ronan Byrne is staying positive despite Olympic postponement

Cork rower Ronan Byrne is staying positive despite Olympic postponement
Joy for Philip Doyle and Ronan Byrne of Ireland in the Men's Double Sculls Final during the FISA World Rowing Championships in Linz last year. Picture: Andreas Pranter/Gepa Pictures/Sportsfile

CORK rower Ronan Byrne is still coming to terms with the acute disappointment of this year’s Olympic Games being postponed until July 2021.

He is currently at home as the pandemic lockdown continues, which forced the Olympics to move from this summer in Tokyo.

“I’m currently living at home in Ballinlough. I have been home since the lockdown began and will be here until it ends.

“Before the lockdown was enforced, I was living with a group of other rowers in a house at the Lee Valley Golf Club,” revealed the rowing star."

Byrne is still training hard, keeping himself fit and busy during this unprecedented time. He maintains a strict training programme.

“Rowing Ireland has supplied me with plenty of equipment such as weights and a rowing machine. I also go running a few times a week. It is important to stay focused and fit.

“I’ve been given a specific training programme that will go on indefinitely until the racing calendar for the rest of the year is determined.”

The games are now scheduled to start on July 23 next year. The Irish rowers were bitterly disappointed with the announcement, but they always suspected the decision was a formality given the nature of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It was definitely disappointing news for all the other rowers and I as we had made good progress over the winter with our rigorous training regime.

“We saw it coming a long way before most people though, so we had almost accepted it by the time it was announced.”

He recalls with great clarity where he was when the news broke.

“I was in our house at the Golf Club when the news broke. One of the athletes living with me saw it online and told us all.

“The director called a meeting soon after to explain what would happen. That day was hectic and I’ll never forget it.”

The rowing star is indebted to his family and friends following the crushing news. Their support and encouragement is greatly appreciated by the Cork native who was quick to take the positives out of it.

“There were a lot of people messaging and ringing me asking how was I feeling which was nice.

“I have always received great support which means a lot. It was always my intention to row through next year anyway, so it didn’t take long to come to terms with the postponement.”

Byrne and his rowing partner Philip Doyle were due to compete in the heavyweight double sculls in Tokyo.

Philip Doyle and Ronan Byrne of Ireland after victory in the Men's Double Sculls Final during the FISA World Rowing Championships in Linz last year. Picture: Andreas Pranter/Gepa Pictures/Sportsfile
Philip Doyle and Ronan Byrne of Ireland after victory in the Men's Double Sculls Final during the FISA World Rowing Championships in Linz last year. Picture: Andreas Pranter/Gepa Pictures/Sportsfile

There were a number of Cork rowers due to participate on the Team Ireland rowing team at this year’s Olympics. They had trained diligently in recent months with the aim of peaking in late July this year.

“The preparations were going as planned and things were just starting to fall into place at the right time after a hard winter.

“The training was very enjoyable. Philip and I are a young crew so the postponement is an opportunity to gain more speed over the coming year.

“We have all trained so hard. Over the last year the team has bonded very well. It is only a small group of about 12 of us, so everyone knows each other well.

“The environment in the rowing centre is one of the best in the world. Everyone gives 100% every session.”

The immediate plan is to stay safe in Cork city and continue to keep training hard in preparation for when all sporting action resumes.

“Until the racing calendar is determined all the rowing team will follow a specific programme to make sure we don’t lose the progress we have made.

“I am confident there will be racing at the end of the season. When it comes I will be ready for it.”

He is confident that he will be able to sustain the effects of continued rigorous training and be ready to peak once again when the Olympics start next July 2021.

“The training is physically and mentally exhausting, particularly in the winter.

“However at this point we’re all hardwired to get in the zone for weeks at a time without a break.

“The hardest part will be the long months without competition.

“We will continue to train hard and prepare accordingly. We will be ready when 2021 comes.”

Ireland's Philip Doyle and Ronan Byrne celebrate at the World Rowing Championships last year, on the podium with the teams from China and Poland. Picture: INPHO/Detlev Seyb
Ireland's Philip Doyle and Ronan Byrne celebrate at the World Rowing Championships last year, on the podium with the teams from China and Poland. Picture: INPHO/Detlev Seyb

The UCC rower, who attended Douglas Community School secondary school, has time on his side.

At just 21-years-old, he is confident there will be plenty more Olympic Games to come.

“Most of my opponents are a few years older than me, so knowing I have more of an opportunity to get stronger gives me motivation.”

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