Wednesday 22 November 2017

WATCH: 'I just threw up the drop of whiskey we had before the race' - Mark O'Donovan and Shane O'Driscoll win European gold

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Ireland have won three medals at the European Championships on a historic day for Irish rowing.

Mark O'Donovan and Shane O'Driscoll delivered a command display to take gold in the final of the lightweight men's pair at the European Rowing Championships in Racice, Czech Republic.

The duo, who recently came second at the World Rowing Cup, opened up a strong lead at the 1,000m mark and never looked like relinquishing that lead.

Ireland won despite being drawn in lane one in a time of 6:32.34 ahead of Russia and Italy. They were the fastest boat in every 500m sector of the race.

"I told you we'd beat the Brits," O'Donovan told RTE Sport after their triumph.

"Dominic Casey wanted to make us hungry so he kept us away from the sport for a day or two. He only made us train once a week to make us hungry and by God we'd a hunger," O'Driscoll said.

"In the warm-up we had a practice start and Mark wasn't too happy with my aggression and he said, 'By God, you better up that aggression off the start' and I made sure all I was concentrating on was the first six strokes off the start and get out nice and hard with that aggression. I think that set us up nicely.

O'Donovan added: "We were very comfortable so I kept saying to Shane to keep nice and relaxed and pound on the legs. He's got fine chunky legs and he can use them."

O'Driscoll interjected saying; "The drop of whiskey they gave us before the race, I threw it up just now."

O'Donovan replied: "Well, he was throwing up before the race as well."

Their teammate in the Skibbereen Rowing Club Denise Walsh won a second medal for Ireland by taking silver in the lightweight women's single sculls.

She was fifth after 500 metres but her pace quickened as the race wore on as early leader Patricia Merz of Switzerland began to struggle.

Sweden's Emma Fredh took gold on a time 7:36.24 just under two seconds ahead of Walsh with early pacesetter Merz clinging on for bronze.

Olympic silver medallists Gary and Paul O'Donovan surrendered their European lightweight men's double sculls title to France but it was still an amazing display from the brothers.

They were in fourth position with 250m to go but delivered their customary strong finish to overhaul the Poles and the Italian boat.

The French pair of Jeremie Azou and Pierre Houin took gold in a time of 6:17.67 with the O'Donovans 2.4 seconds behind them.

The Italians were just two-tenths of a second behind the Irish crew with Poland missing out on a medal by just three-tenths of a second.

"The field is so damn tight," Gary O'Donovan. "To come away with a silver medal is pretty damn good."

"The world championships are in October and this time last year we were four-and-a-half seconds behind the French," Paul O'Donovan added.

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