The semifinals on Saturday at the World Junior Rowing Championships in Tokyo see double scullers Rhiannon O’Donoghue and Molly Curry looking to qualify for the final after spending just five weeks together in the boat.
Despite their short time as a crew Ireland’s promising duo have already made their mark at the Sea Forest Waterway, the venue for next year’s Olympic regatta.
Curry, from Coleraine, is a former swimmer with Ulster and Ireland titles under her belt – she was a J16 champion last year - while O’Donoghue hails from Killorglin, the home club of Ireland international Monika Dukarska.
They were identified as having potential earlier in the season, having posted significant trials times, but had not raced together before making the long trip to Japan.
Their time on Wednesday’s opening round would have meant direct qualification for the semifinals had they drawn a different heat, but they made sure of their place the following day by overhauling Hungary to win their repechage.
“Their heat was close to their best time over 2000m, but their rep was their best time. They know and I know that they have another gear to find” said their coach, John Armstrong.
Most of the crews at these championships have no previous form as individual units, and even the presence of some of last year’s medallists on board may not ensure success.
Nevertheless O’Donoghue and Curry will have taken heart from the fact that only four crews recorded faster times in the heats, from a field of 27 entries.
“We know what speed the girls can do – we’re not thinking of the final position, we’re just thinking of getting into the final” added Armstrong.
The men’s coxed four have a rest day today (Saturday), having qualified direct for their final by placing second behind China in their heat on Thursday.