O’Donovan brothers show they still mean business in Belgrade

Paul and Gary win their heat at the first World Cup Regatta in Belgrade on Friday

Paul O’Donovan and Gary O’Donovan are into Saturday’s semi-finals in Belgrade. Photograph: Inpho

Paul and Gary O'Donovan won their first big race since the Olympic Games in characteristic fashion - they drew on their remarkable finishing speed to overtake the opposition.

They had just six hundredths of a second to spare over the Czech Republic in the heat of the lightweight double sculls at the first World Cup Regatta in Belgrade, but it was enough to send out the message that the silver medallists in Rio have not let their form slip.

They go directly into Saturday’s semi-finals.

The day started for the Ireland team with another sprint finish made in Skibbereen. Coming into the final quarter of her heat, Denise Walsh had an even bigger challenge if she was to qualify directly for the final of the lightweight single sculls. Just two boats would go through, and Poland’s Joanna Dorociak and Pauline Delacroix of Switzerland had the two places in their grasp. Walsh was two and a half lengths back.


Walsh saw it differently, however. She pushed up her rate to over 40 strokes a minute and took out Delacroix to take second, then pipped Dorociak on the line to win.

Sanita Puspure would have had to win her heat to qualify directly for the A Final, but finished third and will compete in a repechage. The race was won comfortably by Magdalena Lobnig of Austria. Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus, something of a bete noire for Puspure since pipping her for a semi-final place at the Rio Olympics, took second place ahead of her.

Shane O’Driscoll and Mark O’Donovan, who are a lightweight pair and will compete as such in Sunday’s straight final, tried their hand at the heavyweight pair but could only finish fourth in their heat, missing out on direct qualification for the semi-finals.

Liam Gorman

Liam Gorman

Liam Gorman is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in rowing