Irish look in good shape for European Rowing Championships
Shane O’Driscoll and Mark O’Donovan with Denise Walsh will look to follow up on World Cup medals
Shane O’Driscoll and Mark O’Donovan celebrate their success in Belgrade. Photograph: Srdjan Stevanovic/Inpho
Denise Walsh with her silver medal from Belgrade. Photograph: Srdjan Stevanovic/Inpho
The European Championships in two weeks’ time (May 26th to 28th) are likely to prove fruitful for Irish rowing. Shane O’Driscoll and Mark O’Donovan struck gold at the World Cup in Belgrade and having made the breakthrough will be out to best Britain again. Denise Walsh, who is just 24, took silver in Belgrade and has every reason to target another podium finish.
The prospects of the premier boat, the men’s lightweight double of Paul and Gary O’Donovan, are also bright. “We are a bit rusty, but we will be a different boat at the end of the month,” was Gary O’Donovan’s assessment in private conversations in the run-up to Belgrade. Warm-weather training camps did wonders last year, and the time they are spending at the Australian Institute for Sport facility in Gavirate in Italy in the run-up to competing at Racice in the Czech Republic should burn off any rust.
Sanita Puspure, who finished fifth in the single sculls in Belgrade, returned to train in Cork but will join the group next week and train there in the run-up to the Europeans.
The 2017 season is unusual in that the World Championships are in America in September/October.
Rowing Ireland hopes to build heavyweight men’s crews for the championships, with the long-term aim of progressing to Tokyo 2020. Interested athletes will be tested at Cork Regatta and the Irish Championships. There is also the hope of developing a senior women’s heavyweight crew, which will initially be targeted at the second World Cup in mid June. Athletes must prove themselves at the London Metropolitan Regatta in early June. Other tests are factored in from there.
The announcement of a new High Performance Director for Irish rowing is imminent.
Back on the water in Ireland, the Lough Rynn Regatta (on maps and apps, Lough Rinn) has drawn huge numbers to the high-class Leitrim facility. Last year’s inaugural event was a success, and there are big improvements this time: a second slip; seven umpires in nine launches; a much bigger car park, which can take 40 boat trailers; two shuttle buses to the public car park at Lough Rynn hotel.
NUIG’s senior men’s eight won last year. This time they take on Skibbereen and a UCD eight. Commercial and NUIG compete in the women’s senior eight, while there are six junior women’s eights entered. Neptune and Commercial junior 18 eights, which won on successive days at the international regatta at Ghent, go head to head here. The good results in Ghent confirmed that there is a big upswing in numbers of young, talented, Irish oarswomen and oarsmen.
The Get Going Get Rowing programme for girls holds their first blitz event at the Waterways Ireland visitor centre in Dublin on Friday.