'I can tell you honestly, we don't even know where the silver medals from Rio are'

“He just wants to get out there and be the best at what he does and he is the best at what he does so you have to give him credit for that," said Trish O'Donovan
'I can tell you honestly, we don't even know where the silver medals from Rio are'

Ireland's Paul O'Donovan and Fintan McCarthy, gold, on the podium for the Lightweight Men's Double Sculls at Sea Forest Waterway on the sixth day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan. File picture. 

“They always say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree does it?” said Trish O’Donovan in explanation for her unflappable reaction to her son’s stunning Olympic win.

Paul O'Donovan, with his team mate Fintan McCarthy made Irish Olympic history last night with their first place finish, the first for Irish rowing and just the country’s 10th gold medal at the games.

Ms O’Donovan was celebrating the victory with a breakfast party with her family after staying up all night to watch the race.

However, she was far from nervous when she sat down to watch the men's lightweight double sculls final even when the other competitors took an early lead.

“Sure like it was in the bag. There was no pressure. Aside from the fact that the poor old Norwegians capsized then, if they didn’t capsize then, they were going for it,” she said to Fiona Corcoran on the 96FM Opinion Line.

Although she would have loved to have been in Tokyo in person to see the final . “It’s heartbreaking not to have been there to be honest,” she said.

Quarantine restrictions have hampered preparations for a homecoming but Ms O’Donovan hopes to celebrate the victory with her son soon.

As well known for his post-race interviews and a wry sense of humour, apparently Paul has to be mindful of his nutrition to keep his weight down, at least according to his mother.

“We’ll be slimming him down, oh yeah,” she said. “I’ll have the blender out grinding down almonds to make almond butter and all that nonsense.” She still hasn’t spoken to her son either after his Tokyo win, although this doesn’t come as a surprise to her after her experience at the Olympics in Rio in 2016.

“When we could physically go to Rio we didn’t speak to Paul for two days,” she said.

Ever since his first gold medal victory for Ireland in 2008 with his brother Gary in Cardiff, Wales at the Home International Regatta, Ms O’Donovan was certain her son would go all the way and started saving for future Olympics.

“I always had the thought that they would certainly go there,” she said.

A fierce competitor despite his laidback attitude, Ms O’Donovan said the trophies are not the most important for Paul and his family.

“He just wants to get out there and be the best at what he does and he is the best at what he does so you have to give him credit for that.

“It’s not about the medal. We don’t even know, and I can tell you honestly, we don’t even know where the silver medals from Rio are, it's not about the medal.

“Obviously, technically they have it and they’re never going to lose it in theory but as regards it being, hanging up there, pride of place, no one knows where they are like,” she said.

She’s not even confident this year’s gold medal will get due recognition.

“Not at all that will probably be in the boot of his car for the next ten years,” she said.

The community’s pride in their Olympic athletes however is not misplaced, according to Ms O'Donovan who said the town’s fame is only set to grow now after a gold medal win.

“Skibbereen is definitely 100% truly on the map and it is big time on the map after this as well,” she said.

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