Tuesday 27 June 2017

Father of O'Donovan brothers flies all the way to Rio but misses chance to cheer on sons due to ticket fiasco

Fans in Skibberreen, west Cork, watch the semi-final of the
men’s lightweight double sculls. Photo: Daragh McSweeney
Fans in Skibberreen, west Cork, watch the semi-final of the men’s lightweight double sculls. Photo: Daragh McSweeney
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

The father of two Irish Olympic rowers was left heartbroken after he couldn't gain entry to the Rio rowing complex to see them clinch a place in today's final.

Teddy O'Donovan missed the semi-final of the lightweight men's double sculls at Rio 2016 due to complex ticketing procedures at the Lagoa rowing centre in Brazil.

The west Cork man had flown to Rio to cheer on his sons Gary (22) and Paul (21) - but had tickets for the Lagoa complex on Wednesday, when the semi-final was scheduled to be run.

It was cancelled due to adverse weather conditions and postponed until yesterday.

However, tickets were not automatically transferred.

Those who missed the racing on Wednesday were given a special code to try to gain entry yesterday, but that was entirely dependent on ticket availability.

"I am here with my brother and we had to queue up today," Teddy said. "We were given a code number to show them. Getting a place inside was only on availability and unfortunately we did not get any Thursday tickets."

Teddy said he put his own disappointment behind him when he heard his sons had qualified for the final.

"That's the positive side. The boys have made it through. They have achieved so much and I think they will do very well as their race was faster than the other one, so time-wise they are up there with the best.

"They were well in control of their race. Looking at their split times I would say they are very confident going into that final," he added.

"They might be the underdogs to some, but to me they are the very best."

Teddy was a lifelong rower and introduced his sons to the sport.

Gary and Paul reached the final as their west Cork town of Skibbereen came to a standstill to watch yesterday's race.

The race was broadcast live on a giant screen in Skibbereen Credit Union - and pubs throughout the town were packed. Amongst the fans cheering them on was their aunt and uncle, Jackie and Dan Neville.

Irish Independent

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