Sanita Puspure beamed afterwards.
After a drive to the line in which she and Zoe Hyde had emptied themselves to take a bronze medal; after she got sick; after she slumped on to the bank and was comforted by Hyde. Then Sanita Puspure picked herself up, made it to the podium and smiled for Ireland.
The third World Championships medal for the team in green here in Racice was the hardest won. Romania led the Netherlands in for gold and silver. The fight for bronze between Ireland and Austria was a protracted and gritty battle. Only in the final few metres was the podium place secured.
Hyde (25) was winning her first World Championship medal.
“I thought we came fourth, it was just an amazing season,” she said. “Sanita is a legend in the rowing community, I have been so glad to being able to race with her."
Puspure (40), twice world champion in the single sculls, said this had been a hard season. She had missed a great deal due to illness. The tenor of the whole year depended on the final stages of the doubles final. “With 250 (metres) to go I stopped looking around and kept my head in the boat. I’m sure it was pretty ugly, but we got there!”
Then it was off to celebrate with the big Irish support group and disappear into the arms of her family, husband Kaspars, and children Patrick and Daniela.
The gold medal for the men’s lightweight double on Saturday was far from a given. Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy did not compete together this season, and because of his medical studies, Paul O’Donovan did not get to the training camp in Spain prior to the Championships. So this was their sole chance to work together.
O’Donovan does not do stress during his races, but his life is hardly his own right now. He is due to be back at his medical studies on Monday.
Coach Dominic Casey wanted to give credit to McCarthy, who he says has come on greatly.
“They’re two formidable boys,” Casey told the Irish Independent. He spread the praise: “The support from Rowing Ireland and Sport Ireland is very good.”
The lightweight women’s bronze medal for Ireland pleased Casey. Margaret Cremen and Aoife Casey not only took out the Olympic champions Italy in the heat, but they also beat the Olympic silver medallists, France, in the final.
The way Casey has coached Skibbereen crews to progress is to target a crew ahead and then beat them. His record of producing results doing this is outstanding. The World Championship gold medallists from Britain might keep that in mind in the run-up to Paris 2024.
The three C Finals on Sunday gave the good-sized crowd of Irish supporters a win to applaud. The Ireland double of Phil Doyle and Konan Pazzaia, who were unlucky to lose out on progression to the A or B finals when losing by .03 of a second in the quarter-finals, were convincing victors. Their placing of 13th means that Doyle will have funding going forward. The Ulster man, who has just turned 30 and has been a working doctor in Northern Ireland, told the Irish Independent that his eyes are now on Paris and he will fit in his medical work around that. He is hoping to qualify to work in the Republic.
In the men’s single sculls, Brian Colsh (20) finished in third in the C Final, 15th overall in his first senior World Championships. Alison Bergin, who is also 20, took fifth in the women’s single C Final, 17th overall.
Both had medalled at the World Under-23 Championships.