Commercial set new record in senior eights at Irish Championships
Focus for Irish crews now turns to international events after impressive weekend at NRC
Olympic hopeful Sanita Puspure has been coming into good form during training in Spain. Photograph: EPA.
Ireland crews head into a month and a half of international events on the back of a remarkable Irish Championships. A crowd of thousands, hundreds of races and some of the best competition you could hope for, including the final race, where two crews burnt down the course in record time.
Commercial won the senior eights in five minutes 36.892, which is a new course record. The international-class starting pontoons are in place at the National Rowing Centre only for three seasons, so official records are dependable for that time. The time of 5:36 is fast. The Canada eight set a world best time of 5:19.35 in 2012.
The championships were an Ireland selection regatta. Georgia O’Brien and Alana O’Donovan and the winning junior men’s pair of Jack Stacey and Edward Meehan join the big Ireland team for the Home International Regatta in Cardiff Bay on Saturday.
David O’Malley and Shane Mulvaney have been chosen as the Ireland under-23 lightweight pair for the World Championships in Rotterdam next month on the back of their fine second place in the senior pairs final.
Mark O’Donovan and Shane O’Driscoll, who will be Ireland’s senior lightweight pair in Rotterdam, won the senior pairs final and played a major part in winning 13 titles for Skibbereen, lifting the club clear at the top of the rankings.
There are some who question whether current internationals should compete against club athletes. Yet, surely this is a case where club athletes should be aspiring to reach up.
O’Donovan is 27. For much of the recent Olympic cycle he has been hoping to be part of a lightweight four – but for long stretches if that he has had no coach.
What does the decade ahead hold for the young stars of the championships? This will be the measure success for Irish rowing. The quality is there: the junior eights of Portora and Cork Boat Club won with precise rowing under severe pressure. The junior singles champions, Daire Lynch and Emily Hegarty, will not be short of offers from US universities.
The three Ireland Olympic crews training in Spain have been hot – in both senses. Having taken time to adapt to the high temperatures, Sanita Puspure has been locking on to the target. If the Ireland sculler hits Rio in top form, she will be worth watching.