Ireland’s Paul O’Donovan (20) took his place in the top six lightweight scullers in the world yesterday with another chase-down-the-opposition performance at the World Championships in Amsterdam.
The Skibbereen man was was sixth and last after 500 metres of his semi-final, but then lit up the race with his acceleration to take second and give Ireland it’s first A Final place of the event.
The experienced 30-year-old Marcello Miani of Italy pushed Zhao Jingbin of China into second by the final quarter and then O'Donovan and Perry Ward of Australia both passed him to consign him to fourth.
Miani will be a strong tip for gold in today's A Final (3.45 Irish time). O'Donovan has a real prospect of a medal, but his slow starts are a cause for concern – at least for some. His coach, Dominic Casey, is not one of them. 'That's how he races at the moment, anyway," he said.
Ireland's two other crews with hopes of A Final places did not make it through yesterday. The men's lightweight pair of Mark O'Donovan and Niall Kenny lost out in a fast and furious semi-final. France were penalised for a false start but went on to set the early pace and eventually took second place behind world champions Switzerland.
Upped their rate
Ireland were at the back of the field for long stretches. They upped their rate and came into the mix, but by the end Australia took third, with Ireland sixth.
The women's pair of Lisa Dilleen and Leonora Kennedy finished fifth in their semi-final. The United States were the best crew here and New Zealand established themselves in a clear second. Ireland and Australia battled for third. The Australians managed to pull away in the final quarter, and Serbia then pushed Ireland into fifth.
Claire Lambe and Denise Walsh qualified for the C Final (places 13 to 18) of the lightweight double sculls. In an extraordinarily close finish of the four-boat C/D semi-final, Denmark, Ireland and Russia took the top three places with just .67 of a second covering them.
Sanita Puspure and the women’s double bid to join O’Donovan at the top table as they compete in A/B semi-finals today.