Irish fours are confident of salvaging medal dream

THE Irish lightweight fours are in confident mood ahead of their second bid for an Olympic semi-final in today’s repechage at the Shunyi Park (9.40am, Irish time).

A fourth-placed finish behind Germany, France and Australia in Sunday’s opening heat means Gearóid Towey, Cathal Moynihan, Paul Griffin and Richard Archibald must take the scenic route to keep their medal dreams alive.

They are drawn in lane two alongside the United States, the Netherlands and Egypt with the first three home making Thursday’s semi-finals. The Irish are favourites to win this morning with their heat time of 5.52.32 almost four seconds faster that the Americans, the quickest of their opponents. Such was the pace of Sunday’s race that the Irish time of 5:52 would have qualified them from the two other heats.

Rowing manager Mike Heskin last night stressed a place in the last six was still achievable. He said: “We still have a chance of getting to a final. We have analysed our speeds, and we can get into a final.”

Heskin found some positives in their failure to qualify directly. “The repechage means we have an opportunity to fix the problems.

“If we had finished third in that race, we would have been straight into a semi-final, the problem would still have been there and we would have had to deal with it in that very, very high-pressure race. We have identified the areas where things went wrong, and we expect to put them right.”

On reviewing the race statistics, Heskin and coach John Holland pinpointed where the Irish suffered.

Heskin continued: “We had a slow start to the race, and we paid a price for that. We lost two seconds in the first 100 metres, and that was the difference.

“The French faded and they could have been taken, but we simply didn’t have the boat-speed off the start we needed to take advantage of that.

“Overall, we are happy with the speed, but it’s a question of having that at the front of the race as well as at the back. We were surprised by the performance of the Polish boat, but this is the Olympics.

“They found themselves in a strong position, and there was no way they were going to let go of that.”

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