We’re on the row to glory!

Another five sets of medals at Worlds... and all looks good for success at Tokyo Olympics
We’re on the row to glory!

JOY: Fintan McCarthy and Paul O’Donovan of Ireland celebrate with their gold medals at Rowing World Cup II in Switzerland. Pictures: Sportsfile

Ireland’s Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy of Skibbereen have won another gold medal, this time at World Rowing Cup II in Switzerland.

They won last weekend’s A Final in Lucerne after a powerful performance, where they dominated once they took the lead.

Germany burst out of the blocks and took an early lead, but were soon overtaken by Italy, while Ireland briefly found themselves in last place.

But Paul and Fintan soon upped the tempo and moved up to fifth, fourth, third and into second, before taking the lead approaching the 1,000m mark. From there they stormed ahead and dominated for the closing half of the race, taking gold from Norway in silver and Germany in bronze, with clear water of 14m ahead of their nearest pursuers.

Paul O’Donovan told World Rowing: “It was a really rough race, Norway were pushing us all the way down. They’re really tough competitors. I’m a bit fatigued now. The coach will allow us half a day off now!”

Meanwhile, in an eagerly awaited Women’s Single Sculls final Sanita Puspure of Ballincollig, County Cork, won the bronze medal, beaten to gold by Hanna Prakhatsen of Russia.

In the first 500m Sanita was in fifth position before moving up to fourth while Austria’s Magdalena Lobnig led. And maintained that lead briefly over Russia’s Hanna Prakhatsen.

Skibbereen's Lydia Heaphy won silver at Worlds.
Skibbereen's Lydia Heaphy won silver at Worlds.

This final pitched World Champion Sanita against the European Champion Hanna Prakhatsen of Russia, who won the title at the last Europeans, where Sanita hadn’t competed. And this was the clash we’d all been waiting for, with an Olympics looming.

At the 1000m mark the Russian took over the lead, followed by USA and Sanita in third. At the 1,500m mark it remained the same, and in the final 500m the Russian controlled her lead and won gold, followed by Kara Kohler of USA in silver, who just pipped Sanita to third.

Sanita Puspure won bronze for Ireland.
Sanita Puspure won bronze for Ireland.

Sanita told World Rowing: “I gave it my best. I know I will be behind the whole team in terms of my form. It was a tough race and I didn’t necessarily expect to be on the podium but it was really exciting to race.”

This was Sanita’s first competitive race in 2021.

Earlier, in a thrilling race Cork’s Ronan Byrne (UCC) and Philip Doyle (Belfast) won silver for Ireland in the Men’s Double Sculls final, and were immediately in contention from the start, briefly moving into second before moving back to third in the first 500m.

Approaching the 1,000m mark they again moved into second, and then into first place as they crossed the 1,000m mark. Back as a pair they began to take control, just holding off the Chinese.

Ronan Byrne (UCC) and Philip Doyle (Belfast) won silver for Ireland.
Ronan Byrne (UCC) and Philip Doyle (Belfast) won silver for Ireland.

At the 1,500m mark there wasn’t much to separate both boats, with Ireland still leading. The Chinese then put on a sprint and overtook the Irish, who responded to retake the lead. Neck-and-neck they battled it out, with China just nicking gold with Ireland finishing in silver (0.14 of a second separated both boats).

Afterwards Philip Doyle told World Rowing: “It was really good. It’s nice to show what we’re capable of. We lose contact with each other over the winter but once we start coming together, we know we have that basic boat speed. It’s promising coming up to the Olympics, but it keeps us hungry.”

Aileen Crowley and Monika Dukarska won silver for Ireland.
Aileen Crowley and Monika Dukarska won silver for Ireland.

Monika Dukarska and Aileen Crowley won silver in the Women’s Pair. Romania led from early on and were being challenged by Spain, who soon took up the lead, while in the closing 1,000m Monika and Aileen began to make their move, moving up in to third and challenging a tiring Romania.

In a thrilling dash to the line the Irish pair powered over the line to clinch silver, with Romania in third.

Ireland’s Tara Hanlon (Cork) and Claire Feerick (Neptune) also competed in the women’s pair final and finished in fifth position.

Cork rowers Jack Dorney (Shandon BC), Alex Byrne (UCC RC), John Kearney (UCC RC) and Ross Corrigan (Queens) competed in the Men’s Four B final and placed third, so ninth overall.

And Ireland’s Daire Lynch of Clonmel finished sixth in the Men’s Single Sculls final.

The medal celebrations for Ireland began on Saturday when there was joy for Skibbeeen’s Lydia Heaphy, who won a World silver in Lightweight Single Sculls.

Ross Corrigan, John Keane, Alex Byrne and Jack Dorney before competing in the repechage of the Men's Four
Ross Corrigan, John Keane, Alex Byrne and Jack Dorney before competing in the repechage of the Men's Four

Rowing Ireland’s CEO, Michelle Carpenter, said: “I want to congratulate all the athletes and team on their results. We are delighted to see five medals after all the dedication and hard work in training camp over the last months.

“Well done to our High-Performance Director, Antonio Maurogiovanni, the coaches, support staff, and the athletes’ clubs and families. The support the team has is a substantial factor in their continued success. Now that we know where we are, we are looking forward to focusing on the important road ahead.”

Chair of Rowing Ireland’s high-performance committee, Neville Maxwell, said: “Overall we are very happy with the results. To come away with so many crews in A finals and five medals is a considerable achievement. The group is now looking forward to having a quick rest and getting ready for the Tokyo Olympics, where further improvements will be made. We are delighted with the weekend, and Irish Rowing is in a good place.”

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