Rower Paul O’Donovan admitted the disappointment of finishing fourth at the world juniors two years ago was the driving factor in his medal winning performance at the U23 equivalent on Sunday.
The 19-year-old moved into third position from the early stages of the final, but a late attack from New Zealand’s Adam Ling ensured an enthralling battle for bronze over the final hundred metres.
In the end, O’Donovan prevailed, though only just. The Skibbereen native crossed in 7.11.63, less than a second clear of the Kiwi.
“It was a massive relief,” he said. “I was very happy to get the bronze. I was going out with the aim to try and win it, but I knew the competition would be fairly tough so I said I would be happy with a medal.
“For a few of the early races I was slow off the start, I worked on that then for the final. I got out pretty quickly and was up with the chasing group. I kept it up all the way down the course but then the Kiwi had a very quick finish.
“At the junior worlds two years ago I just missed out on a medal by a third of a second. I wasn’t going to let that happen again. I had a quick look over and could see [Ling] was coming fast. I put the head down and just went for it.”
In his first season at senior level, the strides forward made byO’Donovan, coached by father Teddy, have been remarkable.
“I made my senior international debut at the World Cup regatta in Eton Dorney last month. I was sixth there in the A final and that gave me a lot of confidence coming into this regatta knowing I was in the mix with the seniors as well.
“There were a few Olympians and world champions competing. It’s good to be competing against these guys as it shows what we’re doing here in Skibbereen is good enough to match the top guys in the world.”
Rio is certainly on his radar but given single sculls isn’t an Olympic category, O’Donovan faces a decision as to which event he will move to.
“I would prefer the double as it is the same to what we’re doing in the single, the four is only one oar per person whereas (in) sculling you have two oars.
“Qualification for the Olympics takes place at the World Championships in 2015 so a partner would want to be lined up by next year.”
Meanwhile, Muckross rowing club achieved a famous victory over the world renowned oarsmen of Cambridge and Oxford in the ‘Lakes of Killarney Salters Cup’ on Sunday.
The six Killarney rowing clubs challenged their English counterparts to row the ‘Killarney Sixes’, a unique boat built by Salters of Oxford, to celebrate the 228th edition of the Killarney regatta. Oxford claimed the runners-up spot with Cambridge in third.
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