Irish rowers are bringing home gold and silver medals from the World Rowing Cup III in Lucerne, Switzerland.
Cork's Paul and Gary O’Donovan won gold in the final of the men’s lightweight double sculls this morning while teammate Sanita Puspure took silver in an incredibly tight race in the women’s single sculls.
The Olympic silver medal-winning brothers from Skibbereen were placing third in the race behind Denmark and Belgium up to the 500m mark before pushing ahead to take the lead by the 1,000m halfway mark. They held their lead throughout the remainder of the race despite a push from Belgium in the final 250m, to cross the line 0.8 of a second ahead of Belgium in a nail-biting finish.
"It was a pretty good race, Denmark took over for a while but then we swapped. We managed to throw ourselves over the finish line in first," Gary O’Donovan told World Rowing after the race.
Gary and Paul, who race in the lightweight men’s category, were beaten at the Henley Royal Regatta last weekend by British Heavyweights Angus Groom and Jack Beaumont but showed they are still top level lightweights.
They will compete for Ireland in the lightweight men’s double at the European Championships over the August bank holiday weekend.
Immediately after the O’Donovans took gold in Lucerne, Ireland’s Sanita Puspure was on the starting pontoon to race the A final of the women’s single sculls.
She won silver at World Cup II in Belgrade in May and was challenging to retain her position.
In what was an incredibly exciting race with world champion Jannine Gmelin of Switzerland and medal contenders Carling Zeeman of Canada, Kara Koher of the U.S, Austria’s Magdalena Lobnig and Germany’s Annekatrin Thiele, Sanita took the lead in the first 500m but was excruciatingly pipped at the finish line by 0.23 of a second by the world champion, Gmelin, after a long battle down the 2,000m course.
Our World Rowing Cup III winners, Gold medalists in the lightweight men’s double sculls, Gary & Paul O’Donovan and Silver medalist in the Women’s single sculls, Sanita Puspure. Fantastic results & huge congratulations from all of us at the #IrishRowChamp2018 🥇🥈 pic.twitter.com/3gjiQwNS0R— Rowing Ireland (@RowingIreland) July 15, 2018
"That was a tough race, really physical out there but the conditions were really good," Sanita said.
Earlier in the morning, World Champion lightweight men’s pair, Mark O’Donovan and Shane O’Driscoll, proved their mettle in the heavyweight category, placing third in the B Final of the men’s pair, after a phenomenally high rate sprint to the finish that knocked Britain’s Morgan Robert Hellen and Callum McBrierty into fourth.
The Irish women’s double scull of Aileen Crowley (Old Collegian’s) and Monika Dukarska (Kilorglin) also placed third in the B final of the W2x while UCC’s Aifric Keogh and Tara Hanlon came fourth in the B final of the women’s pair.
"This has been a fantastic weekend for Irish rowing," said Michelle Carpenter, CEO of Rowing Ireland.
"We’ve had an amazing three days here in Cork with the 2018 Irish Rowing Championships, where some new course records have been set by our younger rowers, and to see our senior athletes winning medals on the international stage at World Cup level is a fantastic achievement and a huge inspiration.
"I’d like to personally congratulate all our athletes on their successes, especially Gary, Paul and Sanita, who have represented Ireland so well at international level."