Ireland women’s crews shine at World Cup Regatta in Belgrade

Sanita Puspure dominated her heat of single sculls on opening day in hot conditions

Ireland’s Sanita Puspure dominated her heat of the single sculls in Belgrade. Photograph: Jeremy Lee-Pool/Getty Images

Ireland’s Sanita Puspure dominated her heat of the single sculls in Belgrade. Photograph: Jeremy Lee-Pool/Getty Images

 

Ireland women’s crews shone on the first day of the World Cup Regatta in Belgrade, with three qualifying directly for the A/B semifinals, and a fourth getting there through a repechage. The O’Donovan brothers, Gary and Paul, joined them with little fuss, but Mark O’Donovan and Shane O’Driscoll, competing for the first time in a World Cup as a heavyweight pair, had to settle for a place in the C Final.

Sanita Puspure dominated her heat of the single sculls in the hot conditions. Three capable competitors fought it out for two semi-final places: Canada’s Carling Zeeman, Diana Dymchenko of the Ukraine and Puspure of Ireland.

Dymchenko, who had beaten Puspure earlier this season in Piediluco in Italy, disputed the lead early on, but Puspure swept clear of the rest of the field in the second half of the race. She won well from Dymchenko, who held off Zeeman for the second qualifying spot.

Aifric Keogh and Emily Hegarty, who is just 19, showed a good turn of speed to take third place in their heat of the women’s pair and secure a semi-final place. Britain One and Britain Two took the first two places, with Ireland sprinting past hosts Serbia to collar the final qualification place.

The women’s double of Aileen Crowley and Monika Dukarska also took third in their first World Cup race together and qualified for the semi-finals. The Netherlands won in a fast time from China One. Ireland had a good lead over Switzerland going into the final quarter but just held them off at the finish.

Shane O’Driscoll and Mark O’Donovan are the world champions in the lightweight pair, but have opted to compete in the openweight pair as it is an Olympic-class boat. Just one crew qualified from their heat, and the Czech Republic took this spot after a stirring battle with Spain. O’Donovan and O’Driscoll took fourth.

In the repechage, the Skibbereen men went one better, taking third in a fast finish. But only the top two - the Netherlands One and Netherlands Two - booked spots in the A/B semi-finals. So O’Donovan and O’Driscoll men are set for the C Final on Saturday morning and a battle for the 13thto 18thspots in the field of 22.

Paul O’Donovan and Gary O’Donovan moved into the semi-finals with a second place-finish in their heat of the lightweight double sculls. In the fastest of the heats, Canada Two’s crew of Patrick Keane and Maxwell Lattimer took the first place, with the O’Donovans slotting into the second qualifying spot.

The women’s lightweight double of Margaret Cremen and Denise Walsh took fifth in their heat. In the repechage they competed much better and took the third spot which landed them their semi-final ticket.

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