Rowing Ireland CEO Michelle Carpenter this morning described the sport’s first Olympic gold medal as ‘amazing, incredible, unbelievable.'
Speaking minutes after Paul O'Donovan and Fintan McCarthy won the men's lightweight double sculls final at the Sea Forest Waterway, Carpenter, who was appointed chief executive in 2018, admitted that the victory was beyond her wildest dreams.
The win comes 24 hours after Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh, and Emily Hegarty won Ireland's first medal of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics when finished third in the women’s four.
Carpenter said: “Rowing’s story is one of resilience, determination and keeping the head down. The entire country has had a rough 15 months due to Covid, hopefully, our sport will help lift everyone after all we have been through.
“I was walking around Cork on Wednesday and people were coming up to me because I was wearing a Rowing Ireland top. They were genuinely pleased and interested and were wishing me the best. It is that connection that is putting a smile on everyone’s faces."
She said that the impact of the pandemic had made this week’s achievements all the sweeter.
"100 per cent, it was really, really hard. Athletes were forced to leave the National Rowing Centre in March of last year and were sent home. These guys were training in their gardens, on their balconies, being coached over Zoom. We fought hard to get our elite athletes back to the NRC, there was a lot going on behind the scenes. But we knuckled down and all that hard work paid off.”
She added: This is beyond any dream I had when I took over as CEO. There has been a lot of changes in our sport over the last number of years. It started in Rio with Paul and Gary our only two lightweight men along with Sanita and now we have crews and crews and crews. What is exciting is the fact that Paris is only three years away. The last 24 hours have been amazing, incredible, unbelievable.”
Earlier in the night, the Irish crew of Aoife Casey and Margaret Cremen finished second for Ireland in the Lightweight double sculls B final. The result means they finished eighth overall in their event. Switzerland claimed victory with a Russian boat in third. Meanwhile Aileen Crowley and Monika Dukarska finished fifth in the B final of the women's pair.