Rowing Ireland officials and competitors are today coming to grips with the confirmation that the 2020 Olympic Games have been postponed.
The High Performance team and their support staff are understandably ‘devastated’ by the news but insist that the correct decision has been made.
The Tokyo Games, due to begin on 24 July, will now take place "no later than summer 2021", according to the IOC, because of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.
Rowing Ireland had had four boats qualified for the Olympics: Women’s Single Scull, qualified by Sanita Puspure; Men’s Lightweight Double, qualified by Fintan McCarthy and Paul O’Donovan; Men’s Double of Ronan Byrne and Phil Doyle; and the Women’s Pair, qualified by Monika Dukarska and Aileen Crowley.
The governing body’s next target was to qualify the Women’s Four (W4-) and the Women’s Lightweight Double (LW2X) in the coming weeks before all events were cancelled due to the spread of the pandemic.
Rowing Ireland’s Chief Executive Officer Michelle Carpenter said, “We are extremely disappointed for our athletes, coaches, their families, and our Rowing Ireland family at this time. We have made both personal and professional sacrifices to support them and their chance to compete at the Olympics this year is devastating.
“We will continue to support the athletes, and we look forward to seeing them represent Ireland at future international regattas when we finally flatten this curve and get back to our normal lives of interacting and rowing together.
“We had hoped for six Irish boats in Tokyo and this a testament to the international success that we have achieved in the last number of years and the work that is done by the High-Performance team. Rowing Ireland will continue to support all of our athletes and coaches, and we look forward to the future and having our athletes represent Ireland again.”
Rowing Ireland’s High-Performance Director, Antonio Maurogiovanni said that everyone involved must maintain their focus through these difficult times.
“We are saddened that our athletes will now not have the opportunity to represent Ireland at the Olympics this year. The sacrifice that they have made and the hours that they have put into training is extraordinary. For them, not to have the opportunity to compete at the Olympics this year is hard to accept.
“With the circumstances that we can’t control, our attention now is focused on the future. We have four boats currently qualified, and our goal is still to qualify two more before the Olympics. We are in an excellent place for Irish Rowing, and we must all keep up the hard work and focus through these difficult times."
Speaking on behalf of the team, high performance members Philip Doyle and Aifric Keogh said: “We are devastated with the news even though we have seen it coming the last few weeks. It’s difficult to actually have it confirmed officially.
“The team has been working so hard and we have been doing so well physiologically this year with erg scores and boat speed better than ever, but we need to take a step back now as a group and plan for the next 16 months or so.
“It’s hard not to lose perspective when it’s a decision so meaningful to us as a group of athletes but we can’t lose sight of the reason why they were postponed.
“We as a team are thankful everyday that we haven’t experienced the loss of some countries and people out there from COVID-19. We want to thank all front-line staff for their work and extend our sympathy to athletes who have experienced loss from this pandemic.”