Eimear Lambe has already followed in her older sister’s footsteps by qualifying for an Olympic final but there is a burgeoning hope that the women’s four crew of which she is part can trump that achievement by claiming some silverware.
Lambe, Aifric Keogh, Fiona Murtagh, and Emily Hegarty clocked in with a deeply impressive display on Saturday in their heat at Sea Forest Waterway and they will hope to set a tone that the rest of the Irish crews can follow when racing resumes tomorrow.
It was the approach of Tropical Storm Nepartak that threw the regatta off course, forcing organisers to bring some races forward to the Sunday and clear the decks for the next two days in the hope that the elements would again settle down.
The delay has only served to heighten the emotions of those watching from afar.
“I was getting videos and stuff of them all at home,” said Lambe. “She’s even getting so emotional watching them. It’s amazing. I think she’s getting a bit rats that people are calling her my sister now instead of me being Claire’s but it’s cool.”
Paul O’Donovan has spoken well at times about the manner in which crews can feed off each other and how that can be aped at club level. It’s certainly been the case in Skibbereen but it holds within the walls of a family home as well. There are eight years between the sisters but the younger of the pair was close enough to be pulled along in in Claire’s slipstream until she retired two years on from that sixth-place finish in Rio.
“The Olympics always seemed so far away and something that wasn’t achievable. You always think of Usain Bolt and all these amazing superstars but when I saw my sister do it, I was like, ‘oh, I know her, she’s normal enough, if she can do it, why can’t I? Why can’t anyone?’
Eimear was racing in the World University Games when Claire was contesting her Olympic final at Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon and if there is a regret to their current experience, it is the absence of her nearest and dearest come race days.
“It’s hard not having family here and stuff and I think they’re a bit disappointed. My parents went to Rio so they’re a bit disappointed not to be able to go to it but they’re at home watching it now and getting the videos. The support is still there.” Three more crews will follow the women’s four onto the water later in the morning.
Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy tackle the lightweight men’s double sculls, Aoife Casey and Margaret Cremen take part in the lightweight women’s doubles while Monika Dukarska and Aileen Crowley go in the women’s pair.
Sanita Puspure’s single sculls semi-final follows on Thursday.