The numbers stacked up for Rowing Ireland in Belgrade, Serbia last weekend. A 100% success rate in reaching A Finals. Top five finishes for all crews. And, of course, two medals.
Shane O’Driscoll and Mark O’Donovan lead the way for the Irish with a fantastic win in the lightweight men’s pair, taking home gold as they overtook Russia, Great Britain and Hungary in the final sprint.
Denise Walsh, also hailing from Skibbereen Rowing Club, produced another impressive performance in the lightweight women’s single sculls, taking silver. Walsh’s final sprint was also key, as she held fifth position for the first half of the race, then hit the gas and shot up to second in the last 500 metres.
As usual, the O’ Donovan brothers were keenly watched throughout the weekend and although they raced the A Final of the lightweight men’s double they finished just outside the medals in fourth place. In a tight finish, Chambers and Fletcher of Great Britain took gold, while Czech Republic and Poland followed behind in second and third with just .36 of a second between them. The Irish crew missed out on the Bronze medal by a mere .49 seconds.
Rio Olympian Sanita Puspure rowed bravely in a very fast-paced A Final to take fifth in the women’s single sculls, in a tough field including Rio Silver medallist Victoria Thornley of Great Britain and 2016 European Champion Magdalena Lobnig of Austria, who came through in third place.
Next up is the European Championships in Racice, Czech Republic at the end of the month where the O’Donovan brothers will defend their 2016 title.
At home this weekend, the 2017 Lough Rynn Regatta will take place on Saturday at Lough Rynn, Mohill, Co. Leitrim, hosted by the Connacht Branch of Rowing Ireland. The regatta is a full-status event on the eight-lane, 2,000m professionally-laid course, with a north-south orientation so it is rarely adversely affected by windy conditions. The course had its inaugural regatta in 2016, and promises to be a great day’s racing on a top-class regatta course.
Ahead of this event, the Rowing Ireland Get Going…Get Rowing programme holds its first ever On-the-Water Blitz in the heart of Dublin Docklands (Waterways Ireland visitor centre) tomorrow from 10am-3pm. The Blitz, which is supported by Dublin City Council and Waterways Ireland, will be the finale of the Get Going…Get Rowing programme which is now run by 12 part-time community Rowing Ireland coaches in five centres across Ireland including Carlow, Cork, Dublin, Galway and Limerick. The GGGR coaches are co-funded by Sport Ireland, Dublin City Council and NUI Galway.
This Blitz is a “girls-only event” to celebrate Women in Sport in Dublin City and beyond. The programme recognises that female drop-off in sport starts earlier than males – beginning at age 9-12 compared with age 13-16 respectively. Not only does it start earlier, but it’s also more dramatic, which results in the larger differences between the sexes in the older age groups. Between the ages of 15-17, girls’ activity drops by 66% (from 91% to 31%). While male drop out is less than half (from 91% to 49%). By 15, half as many girls as boys are doing the recommended levels of activity. In 2016, over 15,000 women participated in the Get Going…Get Rowing programme.
The programme started as a pilot scheme in Dublin City in March 2014. With numbers growing every year and centres expanding all over the country, the water event will ensure that those who have taken part in the programme as part of their PE class over the last academic year (2016/2017) will now have the opportunity to compete on the water, then hopefully transition into summer “learn to row” programmes, and ultimately into Rowing Ireland clubs throughout the country.