Catríona Jennings calls time on her bid to make Rio Olympics

Former marathon runner says she underestimated level of skill involved in rowing

It’s a case of exits and entries for Irish rowing as the year draws to a close. Catríona Jennings, an Ireland Olympian in the marathon who switched codes with her eyes on representing Ireland as a rower at Rio 2016, has left the sport, while the men’s under-23 heavyweight programme is pulling in hopefuls from outside the country.

Jennings, the younger sister of former world champion Sinéad, made impressive progress in a sport she only took up in summer 2013, after competing in the marathon at London 2012. She trained under Niall O'Toole in Dublin and then spent six months of this year based at the National Rowing Centre in Cork.

Serious contention

However, the progress had not lifted her into serious contention for a place at the upcoming Olympics in the lightweight double sculls.

Balancing rowing with her high pressure job as a tax advisor was not ideal.


In hindsight, expecting to switch sports at 33 and reach the top in rowing in three years was asking an awful lot. “I suppose I underestimated the skill level,” she said.

The numbers in the heavyweight men's programme under James Mangan are beginning to stack up. Mangan expects 20 entrants for his camp for under-23s on December 27-30th. Coming into the programme are Dara Alizadeh of Penn State in the United States and David Duffy from Edinburgh, while the fastest three men at the Ulster Indoor Championships, Philip Doyle, Sam McKeown and Tiernan Oliver, are already on board.

There was a new Irish record set at the championships: Erin Barry’s time of six minutes 57.8 seconds was the fastest for an Ireland junior 18 woman.

The plight of Paul Giblin, one of Ireland's most successful club oarsmen, has sparked a call for bone marrow donations. Giblin, 31, who marries Cate Crowe this Saturday in Renmore, was diagnosed with refractory Hodgkin's Lymphona in April 2012, and is on his fourth regime of chemotherapy.

The one chance of a cure is if a bone marrow or stem cell donor is located who can be matched with him. Those who wish to investigate the possibility of becoming a donor should get in touch with Irish Blood Transfusion Service.

Liam Gorman

Liam Gorman

Liam Gorman is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in rowing