Tokyo 2020: Cork's Emily Hegarty wins Olympic medal

Olympic medal glory day for Skibbereen as Emily Hegarty wins medal in Tokyo
Tokyo 2020: Cork's Emily Hegarty wins Olympic medal

Ireland's Emily Hegarty of Skibbereen celebrates winning bronze in the women's four at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.

Cork's Emily Hegarty is an Olympic medallist today.

She is the toast of the County Cork town of Skibbereen, her home town, and throughout the Rebel County, after storming to a bronze medal win for Ireland in the women's four, which she stroked to their Tokyo Olympics medal.

Bronze: Ireland's Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty celebrate with their bronze medals. Picture: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Bronze: Ireland's Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty celebrate with their bronze medals. Picture: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

This is one of the best days ever for Irish rowing, as we celebrated another fantastic achievement on the water. And a huge day of pride for Skibbereen Rowing Club, who now celebrate another club Olympic medallist.

And they are celebrating on the streets of Skibb, planning a huge homecoming to celebrate their bronze medallist.

It's a mighty day for Rowing Ireland and Team Ireland, and hopes are high that this is just the first medal of this Olympics.

During the early hours of the morning Skibbereen's Emily Hegarty stroked Ireland's women's four to a superb Tokyo 2020 Olympics bronze medal, having fought a hard battle to storm back from fifth spot to clinch the bronze in fine style.

It's Team Ireland's first medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and the achievements of Emily Hegarty, Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe and Fiona Murtagh is being toasted everywhere.

Women's Four Final A: Ireland's Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty celebrate with their bronze medals. 	 ©INPHO/Bryan Keane
Women's Four Final A: Ireland's Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty celebrate with their bronze medals.  ©INPHO/Bryan Keane

It was a thriller, with Ireland in fifth as they passed the half-way mark. Known for a strong finish, they then turned on the power, passed China and set about chasing down Team GB, who they passed in the closing stages to take bronze. In doing so they made history by becoming the first female athletes to win an Olympic medal in rowing for Ireland.

Favourites Australia took gold with Netherlands taking 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!”

Speaking to RTÉ a delighted Emily Hegarty took her place alongside the achievements of Paul and Gary O'Donovan at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

"It's really exciting that only five years later there's a women's crew medal (and a heavyweight medal) and it's really really exciting for all the youngsters in Skibb coming up, that there's no limits. 

Ireland's Fiona Murtagh, Eimear Lambe, Aifric Keogh and Emily Hegarty celebrate after winning the bronze. 	 ©INPHO/Bryan Keane
Ireland's Fiona Murtagh, Eimear Lambe, Aifric Keogh and Emily Hegarty celebrate after winning the bronze.  ©INPHO/Bryan Keane

"Five years ago I definitely didn't think that I'd be here with an Olympic medal around my neck, but it's definitely going to give a massive boost to home, and give all those young girls coming up a bit of belief, boys and girls, and hopefully there will be more medals out of the week," said Emily, who was the recipient of an Echo Women In Sport award in 2019.

She added: "It's a really really great team to be part of, everybody backed each other, and everyone has been pushing each other on, it's a really competitive environment we have for ourselves, so that's how I think we got the most out of our training, our crews, just always trying to get the best out of each other."

Ireland's Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty celebrate together after collecting their bronze medals. 	 ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Ireland's Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty celebrate together after collecting their bronze medals.  ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Speaking about being not only an Olympian but a bronze medal Olympian, Emily said "it's still a bit hard to believe to be honest, but over the next few days it will set in, it's really exciting to be part of."

In a tweet this morning Taoiseach Micheál Martin praised the women for the “brilliant achievement”.

“You’ve made Cork, Dublin, Galway and the whole country very proud this morning," he said.

Many others congratulated the quartet, including Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cork South Central TD Simon Coveney who said "what a fantastic way to win Ireland's first medals in #Tokyo2020 and our first ever women's medals in rowing - brilliant athletes and even better people!"

Ireland's Emily Hegarty, Fiona Murtagh, Eimear Lambe and Aifric Keogh celebrate after winning the bronze. ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Ireland's Emily Hegarty, Fiona Murtagh, Eimear Lambe and Aifric Keogh celebrate after winning the bronze. 	©INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Ireland's Emily Hegarty, Fiona Murtagh, Eimear Lambe and Aifric Keogh celebrate after winning the bronze. ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Ireland's Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty celebrate together after collecting their bronze medals.  ©INPHO/Morgan TreacyAlso today, Ireland's lightweight men's double sculls crew of Fintan McCarthy and Paul O'Donovan dominated their semi-final to secure their spot in the Olympic final with a world's best time of 6:05.33, two seconds clear of Italy, and now race in the final tomorrow morning.

Aileen Crowley and Monika Dukarska finished fifth in the women’s pair A/B semi-final and race in the B final tomorrow morning.

In women's lightweight double sculls Margaret Casey of Rochestown and Aoife Casey of Skibbereen finished fifth in the A/B semi-final and now race in the B final tomorrow morning.

Ronan Byrne (Ballinlough, Cork) and Phil Doyle finished fourth in the men’s double sculls B final.

Emily Hegarty of Skibbereen and UCC Rowing Club when she was a winner of The Echo Women In Sport award in 2019. 	Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Emily Hegarty of Skibbereen and UCC Rowing Club when she was a winner of The Echo Women In Sport award in 2019. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

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