As the Irish assault in Racice last Friday began, another positive development for Irish rowing was emerging at home; it was announced that Antonio Maurogiovanni had been confirmed as Rowing Ireland’s new High Performance Director, succeeding Morten Espersen who resigned earlier this year.
Maurogiovanni is a former Italian Olympic rower who competed at the 1988 Seoul and 1992 Barcelona Games, and brings a wealth of experience to Irish rowing having competed or coached at seven Olympic Games in total with several nations.
Accepting the role, Maurogiovanni said, “Since 1977, rowing has been my passion and made up much of my life. It has taken me from Italy to Australia, to the Netherlands and back to Australia, and now to Ireland. I look forward to applying the experience and knowledge I have acquired over the years and using it to the best of my ability to bring success in Ireland.”
Rowing Ireland chief executive, Hamish Adams, added, “We have been through an extremely robust and intensive recruitment process to source the best possible candidate for this demanding role. As a professional coach with a background in sport science and vast Olympic experience, Antonio is an exceptional candidate and we are delighted to welcome him to our team.” The new HPD will take up his role from August 1.
Irish rowing is enjoying an unprecedented boom at the moment with success galore at international events in 2017, in turn bringing heightened interest.
Each world class rowing event in which Ireland has been represented so far this year has resulted in medals for Irish crews and stand-out performances from Irish athletes. Since the historic feat of the O’ Donovan brothers’ Olympic silver medal in Rio in August of last year, rowing as a sport in Ireland has gone from strength to strength.
Last weekend, the Irish Rowing Team produced unprecedented results at the 2017 European Rowing Championships held in Racice, Czech Republic, returning home with a total of three medals; one gold and two silver.
This was the most ever achieved at this event. Last year Ireland claimed one gold and one bronze as Gary and Paul O’Donovan emerged champions of the lightweight men’s double sculls, preceding their Olympic triumph weeks later, and Sanita Puspure claiming Bronze in the women’s single (heavyweight). Puspure also won bronze at the event in 2014.
This year the O’Donovan brothers secured silver behind a strong French crew, while Denise Walsh also took silver in the lightweight women’s single sculls, and the lightweight men’s pair of Mark O’Donovan and Shane O’Driscoll became 2017 European champions with a stunning gold medal performance.
The weekend before, there was also success for the Irish team at the Junior European Championships, with Margaret Cremen of Lee Rowing Club and Aoife Casey - daughter of Ireland coach Dominic Casey - claiming another silver medal in the women’s double sculls in Krefeld, Germany. All three remaining Irish crews who competed finished in the top 10 boats in their events.
Casey will team up with Denise Walsh in a double scull at the London Metropolitan Regatta this weekend at Dorney Lake.
A total of 14 Irish clubs will be represented at this year’s Regatta, including Cork, Skibbereen, Commercial, Shandon, Castleconnell, Galway, Killorglin, UCC, NUI Galway, UCD, and both men’s and women’s clubs within Trinity College Dublin and Queen’s University Belfast. The “Doggett” Cobb Memorial Cup will be awarded to the most successful club over the weekend of the Regatta.
Meanwhile, the Irish team will be far from resting on their laurels, as already they are back at training and focused on the next event; World Cup II in Poznan, Poland, from June 15–18.
In the meantime, the domestic calendar of events continues with Carlow Regatta this weekend. This two-day Regatta incorporates the Waterways Ireland Junior 14/Junior 15 League, the third of six such League events in 2017. Almost 350 crews are entered to compete over the weekend representing 21 clubs, including racing for “recreational” rowers which was first introduced in 2016, due to the growing demand for such categories to be included.
Carlow Regatta is one of the oldest rowing festivals in the country, celebrating its 158th year in 2017 on the River Barrow in Carlow town. The Regatta has a certain uniqueness in that there is side by side racing on a two-lane course, which provides great racing for the athletes and is also very good from a spectator’s point of view. Coaches can also follow the race from the track line, along with designated umpires which ensures fairness and adds to overall safety. It first became a two-day event in 2014, due to the high level of entries received from clubs, and continues to grow year on year.
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