Gary and Paul O’Donovan are golden in Bulgaria

Skibbereen duo secure World Rowing Championships gold medal ahead of Italy

The O’Donovan brothers took gold in Bulgaria. Photograph: Detlev Seyb/Inpho

The O’Donovan brothers took gold in Bulgaria. Photograph: Detlev Seyb/Inpho

 

This really meant something.

Gary O’Donovan punched the air as Ireland won gold in the lightweight double sculls at the World Rowing Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. It was Gary’s first World Championship final and it showed how brilliant this crew are when it is put up to them.

The elder O’Donovan said he and brother Paul had prioritised this: “We said the most important one this year would be this race and I think we took our best strokes ever out there.”

The Skibbereen men were in an outside lane, but they produced an outstanding performance.

Italy, as is their style, set off fastest and led to 500 metres. Ireland - not abiding by their usual style - moved early. They squeezed into second by the 1,000 metres and engaged in a stirring battle with the Italians from there.

The precarious Italian lead was wrested away from them, and Ireland were on their way to their first World Championship gold medal in this Olympic event.

Belgium took the bronze medal. Norway’s chances had faded when they had to replace Kristofer Brun with Jens Holm. They took fifth.

It just did not happen for the Ireland women’s pair of Emily Hegarty and Aifric Keogh in their A Final.

At the head of the field a battle for the gold between Canada - who won -and New Zealand, who took silver. But Ireland did not start well and could not break out of sixth.

The two Irish women were candid: they have to work on their start.

“Honestly I probably don’t know what happened (at the start),” Keogh said. “A lot happened up ahead of us.”

They both said they were determined to move on and improve next season.

Meanwhile Denise Walsh and Aoife Casey gave Ireland’s day a fitting finish with a good win in their C Final. The Ireland women’s lightweight double came from behind - as had their Ireland and Skibbereen male team-mates earlier in the A Final. Casey and Walsh had a clear lead with 500 metres to go and won from Austria and Germany.

This win places them 13th in the world.

The men’s pair of Mark O’Donovan and Shane O’Driscoll took 16th with their fourth place in the C Final. They also showed great turn of pace, but they could not trouble leaders Australia, while Poland and the United States held them out of second and third.

World Rowing Championships, Plovdiv, Bulgaria, Day Seven (Irish interest):

Men
Pair - C Final (places 13 to 18): 1 Australia 6:23.81; 4 Ireland (M O’Donovan, S O’Driscoll) 6:29.19.
Lightweight Double Sculls - A Final: 1 Ireland (G O’Donovan, P O’Donovan) 6:06.81, 2 Italy 6:08.31, 3 Belgium 6:11.25.

Women
Pair - A Final: 1 Canada 6:50.67, 2 New Zealand 6:52.96, 3 Spain 7:04.60; 6 Ireland (A Keogh, E Hegarty) 7:15.70.
Lightweight Double Sculls - C Final (places 13 to 18): 1 Ireland (A Casey, D Walsh) 7:05.77, 2 Austria 7:08.29, 3 Germany 7:09.12.

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