Rowing: Ireland get off to a solid start at World Championships
Sanita Puspure was an easy winner with the second fastest time of all eight heats
Ireland’s Sanita Puspure was an easy winner in her heat at the World Rowing Championships. Photo: Detlev Seyb/Inpho
Three heat winners and five boats qualifying directly for the next round made it a successful day for Ireland as the World Rowing Championships lifted off in Linz in Austria. Gary O’Donovan provided a counter-narrative: he stopped in the third quarter and then paddled home in his heat of the lightweight single, but he and the pair of Shane O’Driscoll and Mark O’Donovan, who finished last in their heat, can have another go in repechages.
Sanita Puspure was an outstanding winner of her single sculls heat. She had the second-fastest time in a classy array of eight heat winners – second to Emma Twigg of New Zealand, who also sent out a message. The men’s double of Ronan Byrne and Philip Doyle and the lightweight double of Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy also swept into the quarter-finals as heat winners. They will be joined there by the pair of Monika Dukarska and Aileen Crowley, a close-up second in their heat, and the lightweight double of Aoife Casey and Denise Walsh, who did enough by finishing fourth.
The new women’s four had a hard target of just two qualification places – and almost hit it, as they overlapped the United States, who took second behind Australia. Lydia Heaphy also showed hunger and pace as she just fell short of automatic qualification in the lightweight single. She finished third – just .3 seconds from avoiding a repechage.
The quality in some of the events was outstanding.
Puspure joined seven other heat winners who will all have the aim of winning: Magdalena Lobnig, a consistent medal winner who is competing in front of her home crowd in Austria; Kara Kohler of the United States; Vicky Thornley of Britain, a suprisingly clear winner; Carling Zeeman of Canada; Twigg; the 2017 world champion, Jeannine Gmelin of Switzerland; and Mirka Topinkova-Knapkova, the Olympic champion of 2012.
Just six of them can reach the final.
In the lightweight double, the Olympic bronze medallists, Norway, did not qualify directly for the quarter finals.
The Ireland women’s four can be encouraged by their first outing. Tara Hanlon, Eimear Lambe, Aifric Keogh and Emily Hegarty hope to be part of the top eight at the regatta, which would qualify the boat for Tokyo. They had the fifth fastest time of the 16 competing crews.
World Rowing Championships, Linz, Austria, Day One (Irish interest)
Pair - Heat One (First Four to Quarter-Finals; rest to Repechage): 6 Ireland (M O’Donovan, S O’Driscoll) 6:50.51.
Double Sculls - Heat One (First Three to Quarter-Finals; rest to Repechage): 1 Ireland (P Doyle, R Byrne) 6:28.93.
Lightweight Double Sculls - Heat Three (First Three to Quarter-Finals; rest to Repechage): 1 Ireland (F McCarthy, P O’Donovan) 6:28.02
Lightweight Single Sculls - Heat Four (First Three to Quarter-Finals; rest to Repechage): 4 Ireland (G O’Donovan) 8:06.49.
Four - Heat One (First Two to A/B Semi-Finals; rest to Repechage): 3 Ireland (T Hanlon, E Lambe, A Keogh, E Hegarty) 6:44.72.
Pair - Heat Four (First Four to Quarter-Finals; rest to Repechage): 2 Ireland (A Crowley, M Dukarska) 7:13.30
Lightweight Double Sculls - Heat Four (First Four to Quarter-Finals; rest to Repechage): 4 Ireland (A Casey, D Walsh) 7:25.62.
Single Sculls - Heat Eight (First Four to Quarter-Finals; rest to Repechage): 1 Ireland (S Puspure) 7:44.41.
Lightweight Single Sculls - Heat Three (First Two to A/B Semi-Finals; rest to Repechage): 3 Ireland (L Heaphy) 8:01.79.