O'Donovan brothers planning for Olympics as they enjoy Cork homecoming after winning World golds

By Olivia Kelleher

A night out on the town set the O'Donovan brothers up for the best strokes of their life with Gary and Paul being met by up to 100 supporters at Cork Airport this evening as they returned home with their two gold medals from the World Rowing Championships.

Gary O'Donovan said he was relieved that all of their hard work and training had paid off.

It seems that their night out with the Norwegian team didn't do them too much damage in the final with Gary saying he was delighted that their hours of rowing had paid dividends.

The O'Donovan brothers homecoming at Cork Airport

Gary said: "We had trained hard all year and we did well. There are loads (of fans) here and my family here.

"It is great to see them. The Olympics are on in two years time so the plan is to go there and to do well."

When asked if he had any thoughts on funding in rowing he said he was "an athlete who turned up to training and to do his work."

County Mayor Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy was at the airport to greet the brothers and he said the rowers were "superstars" in their native West Cork.

"They are unbelievable. They have put Irish rowing on the map. They are down to earth. They are ordinary joe soaps from West Cork. They are very assuming. They don't overplay their success."

Gary and Paul won gold in the lightweight double sculls at the weekend at the World Rowing Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

The West Cork men were in an outside lane and wrestled the win from the Italians bursting into the lead with 500m of the 2km course to go.

The brothers had fought back from a tough semi-final heat where they came third which positioned them in lane six in the final.

O'Donovan brothers planning for Olympics as they enjoy Cork homecoming after winning World golds

It is understood the pair spent a night out socialising with the Norwegian team before the big final.

The pair were catapulted into the headlines in 2016 when they won Ireland's first ever Olympic medal in rowing after they came second in the final in Rio.

They also earned the hearts of Irish people in the lead-up to the Olympic final when they revealed their winning strategy - Close the eyes and pull like a dog.

Paul said their race strategy wasn't complex.

"A to B as fast as you can go and hope for the best. Close the eyes and pull like a dog."

They went to Brazil as relative unknowns but came home household names after their big win and subsequent witty media interviews went viral.

O'Donovan brothers planning for Olympics as they enjoy Cork homecoming after winning World golds

The natives of Lisheen in West Cork even earned a place on the Graham Norton sofa where they were interviewed alongside big names such as Marion Cotillard, Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy.

Meanwhile, Sanita Puspure who won gold in the women's single sculls final at the World Rowing Championships is due at Dublin Airport late tonight.

The Cork-based 36-year-old saw off the challenge of World Champion Jeannine Gmelin of Switzerland and Magdalena Lobnig from Austria to claim first place.

She told Trevor Welch on The Score on Cork's 96FM that it was an emotional day for her.

She said: "It has a nice ring to it 'World Champion'."

"It is all about executing the race in the right way. For me, it was about not losing my head and getting too nervous. I think I rowed well.

"Not as good as the semi-final but good enough to win. It was amazing to watch (the brothers). They really inspired me. I really wanted to do it as well."

Ms Puspure, who is Latvian but lives in Ballincollig, Co. Cork, said it was an exciting time for Irish rowing.

"It is really nice to get the rewards for all the hard work we have been doing."

All images by Inpho

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