Tarbert rower took gold, sliver and bronze medal as part of the UAE Dubai Diggers crew
A Kerry rower is basking in the success of winning three medals at the recent World Dragon Boat championships in Florida.
Keith O’Leary, a 42-year-old from Tarbert, and nine of his team-mates, were part of the UAE Dubai Diggers crew that picked up gold in the 200 metre sprint, collected silver in the 500 metres, and gathered bronze medals in the 2,000 metre race.
In the UAE since 2019, O’Leary was, unsurprisingly, particularly thrilled with his side’s superb victory in the 200 metre sprint decider, edging home at the finish ahead of Canada’s H20 Montreal and Germany’s Neckardrachen.
“When there is one-tenth of a second between us and the second team, we couldn’t be sure of our victory until we heard the roar from our team-mates at the finish line,” he said.
“It’s a dream come true to win gold. All the hard work and sacrifices have been rewarded.”
In the build-up to the world championships, the UAE Dubai Diggers embarked on a gruelling training programme, including 5am starts five days a week, plus additional evening sessions, but the Tarbert man is now delighted that the hard graft was all worthwhile in the end.
“The competition within the club was off the charts. There was always a threat of losing your place on the boat. There was no room for an off day,” he added.
“Dragon boating requires a huge commitment and collaborative, collective team effort. While it was a constant fight to keep your seat, the comradeship and support was heartening, both on and off the boat. We always kept each other motivated to push beyond our limits.”