Puspure decides not to compete at European Championships

In-form single sculler to focus on preparing for World Championships in September

Sanita Puspure has decided not to compete at the European Championships.

The Ireland single sculler has registered superb results this season, taking silver at the two World Cup regattas at which she has competed, coming within a quarter of a second of winning at Lucerne last weekend.

She believes that the big blocks of training she has been doing have been working and is convinced that she will be at her very best at the World Championships in September if she works through another rather than take on the European Championships on August 2nd-5th in Glasgow.

"If I go to the Europeans I will miss three weeks of solid training," Puspure told The Irish Times. She said it was "more reasonable" to continue doing what was working.

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Ireland high performance director Antonio Maurogiovanni chose to miss the second World Cup Regatta in Austria and has entered only the lightweight women's double scull (Aoife Casey and Denise Walsh) and the men's equivalent of Gary O'Donovan and Paul O'Donovan for Glasgow.

While the O’Donovans produced an excellent set of results to take gold in Lucerne and Puspure also shone, the performance of Shane O’Driscoll and Mark O’Donovan in taking ninth in the heavyweight pair was a huge achievement.

"We're satisfied all right," O'Driscoll said. The world champions in the lightweight pair have grabbed hold of a rung on the heavyweight ladder – and quite a lofty rung. The top 11 crews at the World Championships next year will qualify a boat for Tokyo.

Next up for O’Driscoll and O’Donovan could be the Europeans, but it will be next week before that is fully explored.

“They were not part of our plan,” Maurogiovanni said. “After their performance in Lucerne they were very, very keen to go. I am fully supportive of that.”

The Italian said that Lucerne "was very positive" for Ireland. The new women's pair of Tara Hanlon and Aifric Keogh were chosen late and "gained experience". The focus shifts now, Maurogiovanni said, to the World Under-23 Championships next week (July 25th–29th).

Least predictable

Before that comes the Home International Regatta on Saturday at the National Rowing Centre.

The annual match between England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland is the least predictable of international events, especially in this year when the regatta season was sabotaged by windy weather, trialling seemed endless and teams were finalised only after the Irish Championships last weekend.

Those championships were an inarguable success: big in terms of competitors and spectators and remarkable for the improving standard of competition – and also the sheer joy of it.

The downsides? The scheduling: surely the Irish Championships should not be held at the same time as Lucerne?

And two important senior championships, the men’s pair and double, have been lost because adult rowers will not take on their compatriots who train for international teams.

Part of the reason for this is that there are too many chances to compete and win in other events. Less events for adults (a beginner grade, under-20, under-23, senior) and medals for first, second and third would, in this correspondent’s view, be a way around this.

The regatta is also running up against capacity problems. One way forward may be to limit the number of small boats in the lower age groups. An under-14 octuplet is a team effort and a novel way to have a lot of young rowers enjoy themselves in a single race. Should a succession of races in junior 14 singles be part of the Irish Championships Regatta?

The All-Ireland Youth and Open Regatta on September 29th-30th looks like a more suitable event for young people starting out in rowing.

Liam Gorman

Liam Gorman

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