O'Donovan and McCarthy claim Linz gold
Olympic silver medallist Paul O'Donovan made a successful defence of his world title yesterday in Austria, where the new-look lightweight double scull, in which he partnered Skibbereen's Fintan McCarthy, cruised to victory.
O'Donovan and McCarthy went off at 55 strokes a minute but were sixth after 250m where Spain, Germany and Italy were level for the lead. But Ireland kicked in hard at 500m, gaining momentum all the way to 1,000m where Ireland's duo forged their way between Germany and Italy to take the lead. The partisan crowd of Irish supporters in Linz went wild as their heroes took clear water to sprint home for gold.
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"It was on a par at least with what myself and Gary did last year," said O'Donovan afterwards.
"Brilliant" added an exhausted McCarthy.
"With four boats qualified for Tokyo, and a gold medal on top, it's a proud day for Rowing Ireland," added CEO Michele Carpenter, who paid tribute to O'Donovan, the winner of four successive world titles, two in the single scull and two in the double.
"It's fantastic to have an athlete of that calibre in our team - we talk all the time about role models in our sport, and we have one right here on our door step," she added.
Earlier in the day Aileen Crowley and Monika Dukarska qualified the women's pair for Tokyo, after finishing second to Romania in their B final.
Ireland took the lead ahead of China early in the race before Romania came through after 1,500m to cross the line 1.8 sec ahead of Crowley and Dukarska.
Despite missing a chance at the medals, the qualification rules meant that the top eight crews in the world would qualify for the Olympic regatta, ensuring Ireland another Olympic spot.
"I'm absolutely ecstatic - we knew they could do it, they've been knocking on the door since last year, and its very rewarding to see them qualify," said Carpenter. Today sees Sanita Puspure take to the water to defend her world title in the women's single sculls, where she starts as favourite after winning her semi-final. Also in the running are Kara Kohler of the USA and Great Britain's Vicky Thornley, as well as Emma Twigg of New Zealand, who was beaten into second by Puspure on Friday.
Ireland's heavyweight double scull are also on track for a medal after Philip Doyle and Ronan Byrne dominated their semi-final to draw a favoured centre lane alongside China's Liu Zhiyu and Zhang Liang. Carpenter also paid tribute to the coaching team, led by high performance director Antonio Maurogiovanni, assisted by Dominic Casey, Dave McGowan and Giuseppe de Vita.
Sunday Indo Sport