Silent partner Fintan McCarthy opens up on feeling bulletproof

'We have the same coach, the same facilities, the same training programme. I guess it just showed that it was possible. I didn’t think too much about it after that'
Silent partner Fintan McCarthy opens up on feeling bulletproof

Fintan Mccarthy and Paul O'Donovan of Team Ireland celebrate winning the gold medal during the Lightweight Men's Double Sculls Final in Tokyo. Picture: Maja Hitij/Getty Images

All week he’s been happy to just row and let others do the talking.

Fintan McCarthy has offered the odd morsel after each of his and Paul O’Donovan’s three races here but, by and large, he was the silent partner in this pairing as they went about securing just a tenth gold medal for Ireland at the Olympic Games.

And anyway, nothing he could say could outdo the impression his twin brother Jake made when introducing himself into a live RTÉ interview with his parents Tom and Sue shortly after the men’s lightweight double sculls final.

“I heard,” Fintan laughed. “I hear it’s gone viral on Twitter.”

It was a funny and fitting moment for two brothers who have crewed the same boats to national titles, represented their country together on foreign waters, and found themselves spurred on for so long by their bid to beat the O’Donovans, Paul and Gary.

Part of that motivation emanated from the day that Fintan sat in the Paragon Bar in Skibbereen and looked on as the other set of brothers won a silver medal in Rio, and a first of any description for an Irish rowing scene that was starting to think big.

“It definitely played a part,” he said. “We have the same coach, the same facilities, the same training programme. I guess it just showed that it was possible. I didn’t think too much about it after that, just put the head down and trained away. And here I am.”

It was McCarthy who reacted first on crossing the line, his reflexive punch towards a sticky Tokyo sky followed by an almost paternal pat on the flank from O’Donovan whose joy was more pronounced as he jumped up and down on the podium shortly after.

There was an element of relief when the younger of them crossed the line but a surge of adrenalin with it. McCarthy is still only 24 years of age but he is now the owner of gold medals from the European and World Championship and the Tokyo Games.

Quite the trifecta.

They have all but crossed over onto a higher level as a crew. The shadow they cast over their class has lengthened now to the point where others can’t see, or even envisage, a light anymore. If others feel they are invincible, then it’s not far off how McCarthy felt yesterday.

“To be honest, this year the preparation that we have done... it gives you a kind of bullet-proof mentality. I was just so confident that we are the fittest we have ever been. Whatever happens happens. If we give it our best then it should be good enough to win and if it is not then we gave it our best.”

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