Puspure advances in second-fastest time
World champion Sanita Puspure cruised to victory on the opening day of racing yesterday at the World Rowing Championships in Austria, where a record number of Irish crews are chasing the medals.
Chief coach Antonio Maurogiovanni has sent 22 athletes in 11 boats to the Linz championships, where the top placed crews will also gain berths for the Olympic regatta next year in Tokyo.
Puspure's win was one of five Ireland boats to qualify for the next round, where the new lightweight men's double of Paul O'Donovan and Fintan McCarthy also won their heat in convincing fashion. With just two boats qualifying direct for the quarter finals, Puspure led from the start, with only Laila Youssifou of the Netherlands able to match her boat speed. Once the world champion settled into her rhythm she recorded the second-fastest time of the day, beaten only by New Zealand's Emma Twigg
There was also a surprise win for Philip Doyle and Ronan Byrne in the men's double sculls, where they qualified ahead of Australia and Belarus. Coming off the back of a silver medal at the recent World Cup in Rotterdam there looks to be plenty more to come from the two through the week.
In the women's pair Aileen Crowley and Monika Dukarska led the Abraham sisters from Chile by a whisker before the veteran Americans Megan Kalmoe and Tracey Eisser came through the field to take on the lead. The US pair led through the second half, with Ireland in hot pursuit, and despite Crowley and Dukarska raising their rate to 39 the Americans held then off by 0.54 sec with both crews going through.
In the lightweight women's doubles Aoife Casey and Denise Walsh needed only to stay ahead of Thailand to qualify for the next round, which they achieved despite finishing fourth behind France, South Africa and China.