Quarantine mutes homecoming celebrations for Olympic heroes

Quarantine mutes homecoming celebrations for Olympic heroes

Golden oarsmen Fintan McCarthy and Paul O'Donovan may not get the hometown reception they have earned at the Tokyo Olympics when they return to Skibbereen Co Cork due to uncertainty about quarantine. Picture: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Mystery surrounds the return of Cork's medal-winning Olympians to Ireland as quarantine procedures remain unclear and efforts are being made to avoid any large gatherings.

An official homecoming looks unlikely due to concerns over Covid-19.

“The advice was that there will be absolutely no homecoming,” Trish O’Donovan McCabe, mum of history-making rower Paul O’Donovan said. “There are no arrangements yet. I’m hearing they’ll be home on Saturday or Sunday but I have no confirmation yet."

Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy won the gold medal in the lightweight double sculls in Tokyo in the early hours of Thursday morning.

 Marie O'Driscoll, Sharon Roycroft, Amy Minihane, and James Hamilton of Hamiltons pharmacy in Skibbereen celebrating the gold medal won by Paul O'Donovan and Fintan McCarthy in Tokyo.  Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Marie O'Driscoll, Sharon Roycroft, Amy Minihane, and James Hamilton of Hamiltons pharmacy in Skibbereen celebrating the gold medal won by Paul O'Donovan and Fintan McCarthy in Tokyo.  Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Emily Hegarty, who also trains at Skibbereen Rowing Club and lives just a few kilometres from the men, also brings home an Olympic medal — bronze for the women’s coxless four race on Wednesday.

It is the first gold medal Ireland has won in rowing and just the country's 10th ever Olympic gold.

Ms O'Donovan said that her son is relaxed after his historic win: 

He’s in great form. He said ‘I don’t know what all the fuss is about, mam'. 

However, she said her son was probably looking forward to getting home to get outside and have more freedom than they've had during the Olympics.

Athletes have been escorted from events back to their hotel rooms due to strict Covid regulations. 

“There was no way they’d let the athletes out walking around," she said. “But they have a great attitude, they always have had. "Dominic [Casey, their trainer] has always had a very calming influence on them. 

He teaches them to do their best and not to look back. You don’t give up, you keep going.

“And they don’t fret about things like medals. The silver is about somewhere. The gold will go somewhere too."

Fintan McCarthy’s mum Sue was working in the pop-up shop the morning after her son’s historic win.

“Everybody’s exhausted," she said. "But it was great to be in there. Spirits are high. We’re waiting to hear about quarantine — I guess we’ll hear as soon as they’ve firmed everything up but we’re waiting on news. We don’t know if there’ll be any homecoming. I think everyone’s a bit fearful of the restrictions."

"Everything has been happening last minute because nobody knows what we should or shouldn’t do in terms of restrictions. We’ll just have to wait and see."

Nuala Lupton, president of Skibbereen Rowing Club said that nothing concrete has been arranged to celebrate the athletes' return.

“Covid is the problem. We can’t have a gathering," she said. "We don’t know anything yet. It’s strange times. We don’t know about quarantine. 

“It’s all up in the air at the moment, we haven’t decided anything.” 

 

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