Dilleen and Puspure keep their dream of London 2012 qualification alive


ROWING: WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS:IRELAND’S LISA Dilleen and Sanita Puspure kept the dream of qualifying a women’s heavyweight double for London 2012 alive yesterday when they secured a place in the semi-finals at Bled in Slovenia.

The Galway woman and the Latvian-born athlete who lives in Cork had to show their gritty side to take the second and final qualifying place in yesterday’s repechage.

The United States had locked down the top spot by 500 metres, and the Ireland crew battled with Switzerland before getting the edge on second.

Then, over the last 500 metres, Denmark’s Lisbet and Lea Jakobsen mounted their charge and ate up the margin on Dilleen and Puspure. But the Ireland crew held out and put themselves into the top 12 in the world.

“They were pleased to have done the job, but they weren’t overly-excited about it,” said Ireland performance director Martin McElroy of the attitude of the two athletes.

“It was a case of ‘it was an okay row, nothing special – but it did the job’.”

The next part of the project comes when Dilleen (20) and Puspure (29), who came together as a crew only this season, compete in Friday’s semi-finals to determine which crews go to the A and B Finals. On Saturday the top six will compete in the A Final and the next six in the B Final. A place in the top two of the B Final or above brings the prize of automatic qualification for that country for London 2012.

At 12.16 today, Irish time, the lightweight women’s double of Siobhán McCrohan and Claire Lambe will hope to emulate Dilleen and Puspure by finishing in the top two in their repechage and landing an A/B semi-final spot. They have quite a tough draw. “Australia are the standout crew; Belgium have put a good one together too, and Belarus will be no pushover,” said McElroy.

Like the heavyweight double, McCrohan and Lambe hope to secure a place in the top eight and Olympic qualification for the boat.

Sarah Dolan, competing in the lightweight single scull, a non-Olympic boat, finished third in her repechage yesterday. This was one place outside landing a place in the A/B Semi-Finals, and she will compete in the C/D semi-final today (2.15).

Ireland’s men’s lightweight quadruple scull begin the Ireland programme today when they race in a repechage (8.58). A place in the top four takes them into the A Final.