Monday 26 August 2019

O'Donovan brothers reveal why their father is no longer their coach

The O'Donovan brothers celebrate with their dad Teddy
The O'Donovan brothers celebrate with their dad Teddy
Ger Keville

Ger Keville

Ireland’s favourite brothers have opened up about their relationship with their father, revealing how they used to try and throw him out of the boat and why he no longer coaches them.

Teddy O’Donovan introduced his sons Gary and Paul to rowing and was their coach in their younger years in Skibbereen.

The affable Rio Olympics silver medallists endeared themselves to the whole country with their colourful and honest interviews in the aftermath of their Olympic success and they offered similar anecdotes on tonight’s 'Pull Like A Dog' documentary on RTE while also adopting a more serious tone when speaking about their professional relationship with their dad.

“When we were younger we didn’t really like the fact that our dad was there all the time with us in the rowing club,” said Gary.

“We were young and growing up and wanted to be away from our parents. We were hanging out with our friends. We found it difficult that our dad was there all the time."

Paul added: “We wanted Dominic (Casey) to coach us and then dad kind of took a little bit of a step back from the rowing club.”

It’s an issue that still visibly still upsets Teddy.

When he was asked if he still coaches his sons, he abruptly answered: “No.”

“Yes I do (miss coaching them). I coached Paul who is the youngest of the two. I coached him right up to his last junior race, the world championships in 2013.

“I thought I had more to give to rowing but it wasn’t to be.”

The O’Donovans added that their father built the foundations for their success and revealed some of the more humerous moments of their relationship.

“Dad put an awful lot of work into drilling a really good basic technique into us, getting the movement of the stroke right and doing it together,” said Gary.

“I think he realised the importance too, we were all very small compared to the lads we were racing and he knew we were not going to be as strong as them so if we were to beat the guys at the under-14 category or the under-15 category, we had to row better than them because we weren’t going to be able to beat them with strength.

“We asked him one day would he film us and we sat down and looked at it together on the TV and he said ‘look at you now and look at you before’.

“We could see we were improving and we could see for ourselves then what we were doing.

“But then, when we got more confident and a bit more cocky and arrogant about the whole thing, we thought we were the men and we didn’t have to listen to him.

“It would turn out that he would end up giving out to us – he would stand up to give out to us and when he would give out to us we would shake the boat and rock it from side to side to see if we could knock him out," laughed Gary.

Paul also spoke about another incident when their father was driving them and their two friends, Shane and Diarmuid, to training.

“It would be the four of us in the car and especially the three in the back would be just hitting each other probably throwing the car all over the road and dad would be trying to drive and concentrate, he would be going mad,” said Paul.

“I remember there was one time he was in a bit of a rage and he got out and he was going to throw one of us out of the back seat or something but we locked him out of the car, we just had to leave him calm down.”

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