Paul O’Donovan gets medal bid off to strong start in Linz
Single sculler Adam Boreham qualifies for his quarter-final
Paul O’Donovan started his campaign at the World Under-23 Championships in Linz, Austria yesterday with a win in his heat
Ireland’s top medal hope, Paul O’Donovan, started his campaign at the World Under-23 Championships in Linz in Austria yesterday with a win in his heat. The other Ireland results were also creditable, with the women’s four showing well and single sculler Adam Boreham qualifying for his quarter-final.
O’Donovan (19) is in one of the hardest events, the lightweight single sculls – which has 27 competitors – so his win takes him only into the quarter-finals. But his time of seven minutes 12.40 seconds was up there with the other five heat winners, and team manager Morten Espersen feels he can make it all the way to Sunday’s final.
“He was well in control,” Espersen said of the Skibbereen man. “You never know, but it’s looking good.”
Dominic Casey of Skibbereen, who is coaching the UCD scholarship student in Linz, noted how good the opposition is – Andrew Campbell of the US set the best time of 7:10.48 – but was pleased with O’Donovan’s performance: “He looked very relaxed. He’s a good racer.”
Boreham’s qualification in the last race of the day was some icing on the top of the cake for Ireland. The Belfast Boat Club man, who came through the Talent ID system, is effectively a reserve and by finishing fourth he gives himself another round of competition.
The women’s four were competing for the first time in a major event, but their ambitions run to at least a final place. The crew of Emily Tormey, Ailish Sheehan, Aifric Keogh and Lisa Dilleen did well yesterday in a heat characterised by the toughest of draws.
Australia commandeered the one direct qualification spot with a time over five seconds faster than recorded in the second heat. Ireland finished second – ahead of New Zealand, the United States, Germany and France.
The Australians had taken silver at the senior World Cup regatta in Lucerne; all four of them were in the gold-medal eight at the World Cup in Sydney.
Ireland must now qualify for the final through a repechage today.
This is also the route ahead for the men’s four. Richie Bennett, Jonathan Mitchell, Matthew Wray and Rob O’Callaghan finished fifth and last in their heat.
Three more Ireland crews will go into action this morning: in the lightweight single sculls Denise Walsh is set to compete in the first race of the day and the men’s pair (Fionnán McQuillan-Tolan and Seán O’Connor) and lightweight scullers Gary O’Donovan and Shane O’Driscoll go off later.