Paul O’Donovan has a new battle cry in World Championship gold medal quest

Olympic hero Paul O’Donovan has thrown another catchphrase into the mix ahead of today’s World Rowing Championship Senior Lightweight Single Sculls final in Rotterdam.

The man who coined the phrase ‘close the eyes and pull like a dog’ will be ‘banging up and down, throwing the oar in’ as he looks to upgrade to a gold medal just two weeks after he and his brother Gary claimed silver in the men’s lightweight double sculls.

“I’ll give a go at winning it, and see how that works out,” O’Donovan told World Rowing ahead of today’s 2pm final, where his main rival will be experienced Slovakian Lukas Babac.

“Babac looked pretty impressive in the other semi-final but everyone is so close together it’s hard to know,” O’Donovan said.

“I just enjoy pushing the limits. In the semi, I left it a bit late to do the finishing sprint, but I managed to get across the line in first.”

O’Donovan also noted there are new challenges to deal with now he’s an Olympic medallist. “They’re relishing the opportunity to take me down, so that’s pretty cool too.”

He spoke about his growing fame since the brothers’ Rio interviews captured international imaginations. “It really got out of hand, quickly. I’ve tried not to think about it too much. Since Rio, I’ve tried to focus on this Rotterdam thing. Gary has been enjoying the rockstar lifestyle in Rio for a bit and he’s come here now. He’s in the pub and doing a bit of supporting.

“Some of the lads at home were saying it’s bigger than Italia ’90. A massive crowd is expected in Skibbereen for the homecoming next Monday night.”

The Ireland lightweight pair of Mark O’Donovan and Shane O’Driscoll also compete in a senior final today.

In yesterday’s s junior double sculls, Ronan Byrne and Daire Lynch finished third in their quarter-final to progress to the semi-final, while the junior women’s double of Emily Hegarty and Aoife Casey finished second in their repechage to also make the semi-finals.

Meanwhile, the representative body for the National Governing Bodies of sport (NGBs) in Ireland released a statement yesterday in an attempt “to put the achievements of our Olympic team into perspective” despite some remarkable performances being overshadowed by the various controversies.

“Our team did the country proud, and once again our sportsmen and sportswomen were great ambassadors for the nation. They deserve to be celebrated, not alone for their achievements over the past two weeks, but also for their dedication over the years as they put in the time and effort that allows them to compete at the highest of levels. Their performances must also be shared by the many coaches, officials, the support staff at the Irish Institute of Sport and the volunteers who, week-in week-out, make sport happen in Ireland. Without them, there would be no Olympic athletes to fill us with pride.

“And while the Federation does recognise that there were controversies that will undoubtedly continue to generate publicity, they are not the athletes’ story and nor should they be.”


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