A superbly timed effort by Sanita Puspure and Zoe Hyde has won Ireland the bronze medal in the women’s double sculls at the climax of the World Rowing Championships, bringing Ireland’s overall medal tally to four, including two gold.
It also brings Puspure’s own World Championship medal tally to three, having won two previous gold medals in the single sculls, back in 2018 and 2019, the now 40-year-old moving to the doubles to partner Hyde for the first time this season.
On the last of the eight days of racing at the Labe Arena in Račice on the outskirts of Prague, the final was dominated as expected by the Romanian crew, Ancuta Bodnar and Simona Radis, who added the World title to the European title won last month, finishing some four seconds ahead of the Dutch crew.
The battle for bronze became increasingly tense and exciting as the line approached, the Austrian crew of sisters Katharina and Magdalena Lobnig ever so slightly behind in third at the 1,500m mark, but threatening to pull ahead over the last 500m.
Still, with Puspure in the bow seat and Hyde in the stroke, the Irish crew had enough in reserve, finishing stronger again to nail third in 6:52.81, the Austrians coming fourth in 6:54.62, the American and German crews fifth and sixth after setting out fast early on.
It follows the latest gold medal row by Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy in the men’s lightweight double on Saturday, a fifth World title in all for O’Donovan, now one of most decorated sports people in Ireland.
They were among the four Irish final crews taking on the 2,000 metres of water on Saturday, and true to form held back early on, sitting in sixth after the opening 500 metres, after the Italian crew raced into an early lead.
Unbothered, O’Donovan and McCarthy then moved from sixth to first in the second quarter of the race, and once they got their bow in front it was game over.
Margaret Cremen and Aoife Casey also won a magnificent battle for the bronze medal in the women’s lightweight doubles sculls. Victory ultimately went to the well-fancied British crew of Emily Craig and Imogen Grant, who won gold ahead of the USA, finishing in 6:54.78, and then came Cremen and Casey in third, both aged 23 and winning their first World Championship medals.
Earlier on Saturday, Katie O’Brien was back on the water, 24 hours after winning gold in the Para women’s single sculls, this time joining Steven McGowen in the final of the Para mixed doubles.
In their debut senior season, the Irish duo had already done well to make the final, finishing up in fifth place, the gold medal going to Ukraine, ahead of Poland and France, that result for the Irish crew certainly auguring well for the Paris Paralympics now less than two years away.