On another superb weekend for Irish rowing, Paul and Gary O’Donovan won gold in the men’s lightweight double sculls at World Rowing Cup 111 in Lucerne, Switzerland yesterday 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 held off a late push from Belgium to cross the line 0.8 of a second ahead in a nail-biting finish.
Speaking after the race, Gary told World Rowing: “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.”
Puspure then took the lead in the first 500m of her race but was just pipped at the finish line by 0.23 of a second by the world champion, Jannine Gmelin, from Switzerland, after a long battle down the 2,000m course.
“That was a tough race, really physical out there but the conditions were really good. I always enjoy racing here.”
The O’Donovans will now compete at the European Championships over the August bank holiday weekend but Puspure isn’t sure of her plans.
“I’m not sure if I’ll do the Europeans, I might just focus on the World Rowing Championships.”
World Champion lightweight men’s pair, Mark O’Donovan and Shane O’Driscoll, also proved their mettle in the heavyweight category, placing third in the B Final of the men’s pair, while the women’s double scull of Aileen Crowley and Monika Dukarska also placed third in their B final. UCC’s Aifric Keogh and Tara Hanlon came fourth in the B final of the women’s pair.
Meanwhile, the third and final day of the 2018 Irish Rowing Championships came to a close in spectacular fashion at the National Rowing Centre in Cork yesterday, with spectators treated to enthralling racing.
In the women’s senior eights race, it was Skibbereen versus Dublin University Ladies and two NUIG crews, and it was Skibbereen who looked in control from the off, taking first from NUIG A second and DULBC in third.
The enthralling men’s senior eights then left competitors, commentators and spectators alike gasping for breath after a dramatic clash between four Dublin crews, a University composite of NUI Galway and Queens University Belfast, and Cork Boat Club.
Right from the outset, it was clear this was going to be a very tough race for all involved, with less than a second separating the top three crews – Commercial B, UCD, NUIG/Queens – after 1000m and the chasing pack remaining in touch.
Coming into the closing stages, Commercial and NUIG/Queens pushed ahead of UCD by a couple of feet and at 1500m these two crews were dead level. Commercial then made their move, pushing ahead by a foot or two, then a canvas, and with spectators now getting very much behind their rowers it looked like Commercial were about to achieve the three-in-a-row.
However, in a dramatic finish, UCD upped their stroke rate hugely and looked to be closing in on the leaders, pushing them all the way to the line and finishing too close for onlookers to call.
The end result was eventually announced as Commercial first by just 0.57 seconds, followed by UCD, and the NUIG/Queens composite took third.
Commercial take the top prize in Irish men’s rowing once again for the third year in a row, having previously achieved the three-in-a-row in 2003-2005.