Denise Walsh and Claire Lambe fund their own European Championships entry
Irish rowing pair raise funds online to cover regatta entries in Italy and Poland
The lightweight double sculls pair raised €4,100 with 70 donations in 20 days. Photograph: Alan Betson
Denise Walsh and Claire Lambe have just been selected to row for Ireland in the lightweight double sculls and are looking forward to competing in Italy in April and at the European Championships in Poland in May. Funding was a huge worry, but they know they have the means to go: they raised it online.
The Cork woman (22) and Dubliner (24) are full-time athletes but fell one place outside carding when they finished 14th at the World Championships last year. They set a target of €3,400 to cover the regattas at Piediluco and Poznan and launched their “Fund Irish Rowing to Europeans” page on gofundme.com. As of Thursday, they had raised €4,100, with 70 donations in 20 days. “It’s been brilliant,” said Walsh.
The Skibbereen woman finds it difficult to understand why Lambe and herself have to pay a €600 athlete’s levy for a regatta, when funded rowers are asked for €400, but Ireland performance director Morten Espersen mounts a spirited defence of his efforts to fund a growing system with less finance than his predecessors. The funded athletes have got where they are because they have reached a standard.
“They are the ones who have the highest record; we should look after them,” he says. And he points out that Lambe and Walsh, and other unfunded competitors, had less expense last year.
The finances of Irish international rowing are a tale of loaves and fishes: Espersen talks of constant pressure to save – there will be just three major international events for seniors this season; flights and hotels are bought for the lowest prices they find; himself and unpaid Ireland assistant coach Mary McLachlan will drive the boats to Italy.
There will be Irish interest in the massive Head of the River – 345 eights are entered – from Putney to Mortlake in London on Sunday. The London Rowing Club crew which goes off fifth will have both Niall Kenny and Alan Campbell on board. UCD are set to go off 87th and Belfast are listed to go off 82nd. The weather forecast is a worry.
The Cork Sculling Ladder ends on Sunday. Shane O’Connell of Cork Boat Club, who was the joint winner of the time trial, beat last year’s overall winner, Colm Hennessy of Shandon, on Wednesday. He awaits the winner of Ronan Byrne (Shandon) and Daniel O’Sullivan (Lee), the second joint time trial leader.
The Offaly head of the river is on Saturday. The two races go off at 11 am and 3 pm.