Saturday 3 December 2016

Olympic rowing hero Gary O'Donovan: 'I hear Skibbereen is after closing down... 'tis a pity we're missing it!'

Alan O'Keeffe

Published 13/08/2016 | 02:30

Brothers Paul, left, and Gary O’Donovan after the Men’s Lightweight Double Sculls A final in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Brothers Paul, left, and Gary O’Donovan after the Men’s Lightweight Double Sculls A final in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Olympic rowing heroes Paul and Gary O'Donovan may have just made history in Rio but they were gutted to be missing out on the party in Cork last night.

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Ireland's newest sporting icons have been a breath of fresh air throughout the Games and they typically took their silver medal-winning performance in their stride.

The Skibbereen duo were in high spirits when they spoke live on television last night.

The two brothers greeted the RTÉ sports panel with a good humoured "Hi lads, how are things! What's the craic?"

Paul, asked about how he felt after the race, said: "I'm shook enough now after the race. The legs are like jelly. We did a bit of celebrating and did the podium thing and got to put on the podium pants as well so that was quite nice.

"We saw the mother and the father and we took a few pictures. I had to do this doping control thing so I was there for an hour or two trying to take a pee into a cup for them. So after about 10 litres of water, I'm full up, to be honest. It's been great craic anyway."

Gary said: "We've been having a great time altogether, signing photographs and autographs. We're fairly tired now... It's been a bit of a circus since we finished the race. We're just trying to take it all in and enjoy it the best we can," he said.

Paul said they were delighted with the celebrations going on back in Skibbereen.

"I haven't a clue what's going on at home but I hear it's mad excitement altogether. 'Tis a pity we're missing the whole thing out here," said Gary.

Paul quipped: "Skibbereen is after closing down. A national holiday or something. We're missing it all."

Speaking of the race, Gary said: "Our plan was to stick with the pack for the most part of the race and stay right in the middle of the leading crews. I think we did that quite well but coming into the 1,000 metres mark I was feeling pretty confident that there was a medal there for us. After that, you just keep your head in your own boat and we were pulling hard and hoping for the best.

"The last few strokes were hairy enough. The eyes were closed and we were pulling like mad. I didn't know how many crews were around me or where in the field we stood.

"We were just going and going for the line," said Gary.

Paul said the race took a huge physical toll.

"The Olympic final, we said we'd make a good old go of it. We tired ourselves out anyway," he said.

Gary said they were delighted to fly the Irish flag on their boat afterwards. "We had to bring the boat past the crowd and I think it was a nice touch to put our national flag on our oar and row past the crowd who were cheering us on."

They said the cheer they received when they walked onto the podium was so loud it was as if they were in Ireland. Speaking of the medal ceremony, Gary said: "We were relaxed and cool and...enjoyed the whole lot...And the tricolour was going up on the flagpole."

Irish Independent

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