Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy’s rivals paid tribute to the Olympic champions in Tokyo today after another dominant performance from the Skibbereen duo to take gold in lightweight men’s double sculls.
“They are incredible,” said Jiri Simanek, who led Czech Republic to a fourth-place finish, their boat crossing the line 10 seconds behind the Irish and an agonising tenth of a second away from the medals.
“We are in good shape but they are something out of space for us. They deserve it. Paul is a monster.”
His teammate Miroslav Vrastil struck a similar tone. “Yeah, he is a monster,” he added. “We are in very good shape, but they are just better.”
Pietro Ruta, who helped Italy to bronze, said the Irish duo stand alone in their event. “It is such a strong crew,” he said. “They have a different strategy, they are very constant over the race but the last part, it’s good for them.”
Asked whether he felt they were beatable, he thought for a moment and said: “Yes, if you find a stronger boat you can beat them.”
The Czech crew was less sure about that. “Right now they are unbeatable,” said Simanek. “The whole season they were first, last year they were first. They are very, very good. We have already (bridged) the gap we wanted, but I don’t know if it’s in our power to reach these.”
For Germany’s Jason Osbourne this might have been his final chance to get one over on the Irish, given he now plans to switch to cycling, but he was rewarded with a silver medal, their boat hitting the line less than a second behind the Irish.
“I’ll give it a shot but if it doesn’t work out, then I’ll go back to rowing,” he said. “We tried to beat them today and we’re happy with how it went. Today was the closest we have ever got.”