Double success for Irish rowing as two boats seal Rio 2016 spot

2012 London Olympian Sanita Puspure finishes 0.66 seconds away from qualification

Claire Lambe and Sinead Jennings have secured a place at the Rio Olympics in the women’s double sculls.

Claire Lambe and Sinead Jennings have secured a place at the Rio Olympics in the women’s double sculls.

 

A wonderful week for Ireland rowing ended with two boats qualified for the Olympic Games. The Ireland lightweight men’s and women’s double sculls secured the places at the World Rowing Championships in Aiguebelette which will guarantee the best representation at the Games for Ireland rowing since 2008.

Sanita Puspure, the woman who gave the country its sole crew in London, fell just short of taking the tally to three for Rio. She put in a brave performance in her single sculls B Final where she had to finish in the top three, the top nine in the world. She opened up a lead of just over a length and held it until the final quarter. As the other scullers closed she could not hold on and finished fifth, just .66 of a second off qualification.

“I gave it 100 per cent,” Puspure said tearfully. She had “just ran out of gas” at the end.

Claire Lambe and Sinead Jennings used almost exactly the same tactics in their B Final - and secured third when they needed only to finish in the top five, the world’s top 11.

Lambe’s tears were tears of relief. The Dubliner’s hopes of qualifying for London had not worked out, but in just their second regatta together, the combination of herself and Jennings had come up trumps.

In their semi-final they had been caught by the late acceleration of Canada. “This regatta has ‘pacers’ and sprinters,” Jennings told The Irish Times after that race. The new Ireland crew was not going to produce devastating finishing speed, so they would build a platform earlier. They did it and it worked.

The O’Donovan brothers, Paul and Gary, teetered on the edge of the precipice: they relegated Greece to sixth with an all-out effort in a six-boat charge to the line to qualify by .28 of a second.

Gary said he had been able to stay calm in a tense race. Paul was as white as milk. “I got us to 1800 metres and then Gary helped us across the line. (I am) absolutely delighted.”

Ireland may still add to their Rio complement through next May’s Olympic qualifiers.

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