Friday 23 February 2018

Puspure back in action as O'Donovans lead Irish hopes

Rowing

Sanita Puspure is looking to make her mark. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Sanita Puspure is looking to make her mark. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Robert Treharne Jones

Ireland's leading woman sculler is back in action this weekend at the World Cup regatta in Poland.

Sanita Puspure is looking to get back on the international medal podium for the first time this season.

The Old Collegians sculler had to miss the European Championships three weeks ago with an eye infection.

Now fully fit, Puspure is looking to make her mark against British sculler Vicky Thornley, the European champion, and Duan Jingli, the Chinese star who is back in international competition for the first time since winning bronze at the Rio Olympics.

Also looking to establish themselves at the highest level are Monika Dukarska in the single scull, with Aifric Keogh and Aileen Crowley in the women's pair.

The event marks a homecoming for Killorglin sculler Dukarska, whose lived in Poznan, a short distance from the venue, before she emigrated to Ireland more than ten years ago.

Both crews had the call-up to Poland just a week ago, after heavyweight coach Sean Casey oversaw the trials programme, while Dukarska's coach Michael Fleming is aware of the size of the challenge.

"A strong performance in the 'B' final would be a good result for us here," he said.

Meanwhile, it's business as usual for Ireland's lightweight champions, with the O'Donovan brothers, Gary and Paul, heading the charge for medals in the double scull.

The French team, who beat the Skibbereen duo to the line in Rio and again at the Europeans, will once again be the crew to beat in this most competitive of boat classes.

In the non-Olympic lightweight men's pair, Mark O'Donovan and Shane O'Driscoll will be looking to make it three golds in a row.

Ireland's fifth crew is European silver medallist Denise Walsh, who will line up alongside the same athletes who won medals with her in the Czech Republic.

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