IT was an incredible morning for Team Ireland, as the Women’s Four of Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty secured Ireland’s first Olympic medal as they took home the bronze in style today.
The quartet were lying fifth at the halfway mark and, as they passed the 1000m mark they pushed past China to increase the pressure on the GB crew, before passing GB in the closing stages of the race to take bronze in thrilling fashion.
The Australian crew - who they met in the heats earlier this week - took the gold medal, pipping the Netherlands who took the silver.
Speaking after the race, the thrilled Irish crew described the strategies they worked with: “The race was a blur really, it went by so fast.
"Eimear was calling our strategies out, and it felt like she was calling them early, but then I looked out and we were at that point.
"It was very quick. It wasn’t the best race, but we always say we want to be the best on our worst day too, and we pulled that off.
“We always know that the second half is our stronger part, so we tried to stay with the pack as much as we can, so at this stage their strategies are probably to put as much time into us in the first half. And they did that!”
The Lightweight Men’s Double Scull of Fintan McCarthy and Paul O’Donovan dominated their semi-final winning with a world best time of 6:05.33, two seconds clear of Italy, with Belgium taking the third and final spot in the A Final tomorrow.
Speaking afterwards McCarthy said: “We are happy with our race, the conditions were tough, but nothing that we weren't prepared for.
"I saw the time when I finished the race, on the splits, but I didn't want to believe it until we saw it after!
"Now we will just concentrate on tomorrow's final. We expect a tough battle from the Italians.”
In the semi-finals of the Lightweight Women’s Double meanwhile, Aoife Casey and Margaret Cremen also impressed, pushing all the way for one of the three spots on offer, finishing fifth on the line with 6:49.24 and will now compete in tomorrow’s B Final.
The Women’s Pair also will compete in the B Final after a fifth-place finish in their semi-final, in a time of 7:06.7.
Earlier on, the Men’s Double Scull of Philip Doyle and Ronan Byrne finished fourth in their B Final, resulting in a tenth overall finish place in Tokyo today.
The Irish duo had a fast start, holding joint second in the opening 500m behind the Russian Olympic Committee, with a tight battle for eighth place between themselves, New Zealand and Romania.
On the line they were pipped by the Romanian crew into fourth in the heat, and tenth overall.