Lightweight men may be left in women’s wake

Success of Sanita Puspure raises question of men’s boats for 2016

John Holland:  “In the short term we are going to see is there any possibility of doing a [lightweight] four.” Photograph: Inpho

John Holland: “In the short term we are going to see is there any possibility of doing a [lightweight] four.” Photograph: Inpho

 

Ireland’s top three Olympic-class crews share two traits: they showed themselves to be on course for Rio at the recent World Championships; and they are all women’s crews.

The success of the women’s double, pair and single sculler Sanita Puspure is a boost for Irish rowing, but it raises the question of whether Ireland will have any men’s boats in the mix in 2016.

Ireland has not had an internationally competitive heavyweight crew in years, and there are just two lightweight men’s slots for the Olympics: the lightweight four and lightweight double sculls. The prospects of forming a crew or crews in these disciplines could become clear as early as next weekend.

Twenty-eight lightweight oarsmen have put themselves forward at the National Rowing Centre in the run-up to the first Ireland assessment for 2015 next month.

John Holland, a four-time Olympic coach, has been asked by Ireland performance director Morten Espersen to help. There will be a strong development element, with an eye on Tokyo 2016. “But in the short term we are going to see is there any possibility of doing a [lightweight] four,” said Holland.

Training regularly

Paul GriffinTim HarnedyNiall Kenny

However, Ireland’s top lightweight, Paul O’Donovan, is sticking to his guns in preferring to try to campaign in a lightweight double rather than a four. He finished fourth in the world in the lightweight single, and Espersen thinks he will not find a competitor to match his class in a double. But O’Donovan is clear in his preference: “I’d like to give the double a go,” he said.

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