Sanita Puspure won't defend European title with Olympics the priority

Despite Ballincollig rower's absence there will still be a strong Cork presence in Italy
Sanita Puspure won't defend European title with Olympics the priority

Sanita Puspure of Ireland celebrates with her gold medal after winning the Women's Single Sculls A Final in 2020. Picture: Jakub Piaseki/Sportsfile

BALLINCOLLIG’S Sanita Puspure will not be defending her women’s single sculls title at next month’s European Rowing Championships in Varese, Italy, focusing instead on training and preparing for competitions later in the season.

For the Cork-based rower, who won her second European title in Poznan, Poland, last October, the chief target of the year remains the Tokyo Olympics, beginning in late July. Puspure will, however, travel with the Irish team to Verese, the championships set for April 9-11, and from there to a training camp in further preparation for Tokyo.

In all, eight Irish crews made up of 17 rowers have been selected for the championships, looking to continue the success of the senior, U23, and junior crews, who, between them, won 10 medals from their European Championships in September and October last year. In Poznan, the seven crews produced four medal winners; the other three ranked in the top-eight.

As expected, Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy will continue in the lightweight men’s double, meaning no place for Gary O’Donovan, who partnered his brother to the silver medal in Rio 2016. 

The new O’Donovan-McCarthy combination won gold at the 2019 World Rowing Championships and qualified the boat for the Olympics, also winning silver at the World Rowing Cup III in Rotterdam that year.

McCarthy went on to win bronze in the lightweight men’s single in Poznan. Gary O’Donovan will be competing in the lightweight men’s single, and hasn’t yet given up hope of getting back in the boat with his brother in time for Tokyo. Varese may further decide that matter. 

Philip Doyle and Ronan Byrne will compete in the men’s double in Varese, qualifying that boat for Tokyo by winning silver at the 2019 World Rowing Championships in Linz. 

Doyle missed the 2020 European Championships, as he took time out during 2020 to return to Daisy Hill hospital to resume his role as a doctor during the pandemic. Doyle and Byrne also won silver in the men’s double at the World Rowing Cup III in 2019. Daire Lynch will be competing in the men’s single, after a very successful 2020, winning gold at the U23 Championships, alongside Ronan Byrne.

Lynch, a member of Clonmel Rowing Club, is studying and rowing for Yale. The men’s single can still qualify for the Tokyo Olympics at the final qualification regatta in Lucerne.

Fiona Murtagh, Eimear Lambe, Aifric Keogh, and Emily Hegarty will compete in the women’s four, Murtagh winning bronze in Poznan and has won the Head of Charles two years in a row. Aileen Crowley and Monika Dukarska will compete in the women’s pair, with Margaret Cremen and Aoife Casey in the lightweight women’s double.

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