Gary O’Donovan forced out of double sculls at World Championships
Olympic silver medallist has not been able to train due to illness
Gary O’Donovan has been forced out of the lightweight double sculls at the upcoming World Rowing Championships in Florida due to illness. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Ireland’s hope of winning a medal in an Olympic-class boat at the World Rowing Championships have suffered a major blow after Gary O’Donovan was forced to pull out of the lightweight double sculls due to illness. His brother and crewmate, Paul, will now campaign in the lightweight single sculls, which is a non-Olympic boat.
“Gary hasn’t been well for a few weeks. He hasn’t been able to train, but we didn’t know if he would be ruled out. We kept hoping,” Ireland coach Dominic Casey told The Irish Times from the training camp in Banyoles in Spain.
The lightweight double took silver at the Olympic Games last year and had podium finishes at two World Cup regattas and at the European Championships this season. Casey said there was no point trying to create a new crew so late in what is a very competitive class. “If it [a withdrawal] was going to happen any year this is the best year,” he added. There are three years left in the cycle to Tokyo 2020.
Paul O’Donovan is the reigning champion in the lightweight single. He came back from Rio de Janeiro to take gold in last year’s World Championships in Rotterdam. He will now be the favourite when the championships begin on Sunday week, September 24th in Sarasota-Bradenton in Florida.
Sarasota was hit by Hurricane Irma, but organisers say the damage was limited and the championships will go ahead.
The Ireland team could also be in contention for three other medals. The lightweight pair of Shane O’Driscoll and Mark O’Donovan have had a stunning season, winning at the European Championships and all three World Cup regattas, while lightweight single sculler Denise Walsh took World Cup and European Championship silver this season.
Sanita Puspure, a double Olympian, has been training well and will be targeting an A Final place at the least in the single sculls. Ireland’s two other crews, the men’s and women’s pairs, are unlikely to make A Finals in Florida. They are effectively new crews competing in tough classes.
Gary O’Donovan will travel to the championships as a spare for the team.
Ireland Team for World Rowing Championships, Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida, September 24th-October 1st:
Pair: F McQuillan-Tolan, P Boomer. Lightweight Pair: M O’Donovan, S O’Driscoll. Lightweight Single Sculls: P O’Donovan
Pair: A Crowley, A Keogh. Single Sculls: S Puspure. Lightweight Single Sculls: D Walsh.