Nerveless champion Paul O'Donovan on why pair don't actually deserve much credit at all

Olympic honour just down to 'being born early in the history of time'. 
Nerveless champion Paul O'Donovan on why pair don't actually deserve much credit at all

2020 Tokyo Olympic Games Thursday - Rowing, Sea Forest Waterway, Tokyo, Japan 29/7/2021

Paul O’Donovan has a magnificently unique take on why he and Fintan McCarthy don’t actually deserve all that much credit for winning Irish rowing’s first Olympic gold medal and just the country’s 10th gold in all.

And he shared it with Peter Collins as the Skibbereen duo explained how the race was won this morning on RTÉ’s Olympic coverage.

“Not many people have won gold medals and this and that, that's nice for headlines, that’s more a fact of being born early in the history of time.

“In a million years from now we’ll have had a lot more gold medalists, I’m sure, in the Olympic games, so that’s nothing down to what we’ve actually done ourselves. We can’t take any credit for that, it’s just a bit of luck with being born when we were, more than anything.” 

It’s one way of looking at things and who’s to say that Paul’s singular take on life isn’t a key ingredient in keeping the various Irish boats he’s steered to glory on an even keel.

“I think people think you would be more excited than you are,” he said, of this latest triumph, a gold to follow silver with his brother Gary in Rio.

“You hear people say it hasn’t sunk it yet. But from my experience, I won a medal at the last Olympics, I won one or two World Championships and stuff. It’s fine, like. You’re very happy winning obviously but at the end of the day you forget about it and get on with life.” 

His current partner doesn't yet have as many medals strewn casually about the place back in Skibbereen, so he was willing to be steered down more traditional routes: “I don’t think it has properly sunk in yet.” 

But perhaps the nerveless approach of his more experienced colleague is contagious.

“It was bizarre, I didn’t really feel that nervous. Usually, I would be a little bit, but we’d done everything we could to prepare, hadn’t left any stone unturned, so it was just go and do it.” 

Of the rapturous welcome the pair got back at the Olympic Village, McCarthy said: “That was a nice moment coming back to the village. It’s a good time because most of the people on Team Ireland are there at the moment, so it was good to see everyone.” 

For Paul’s part, it's just one more turn of the clock on the steady but slow march of time.

“It’s been good. Five years ago since the last time, it’s hard to think back and remember and compare, I can hardly remember what I felt like yesterday.

“They were both very good experiences. Myself and Gary had a good time in Rio, Fintan has made the boat now this time and he’s got straight to the top of the podium, fair play to him for that.”

Watch the full interview below.

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