Rowing: Olympic hopefuls ready to line up in Irish Indoor Championships

Big prize for contenders is a spot in the Ireland lightweight double for Tokyo

Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy won lightweight double gold during August at the World Rowing Championships in  Ottensheim, Austria. Photograph: Detlev Seyb/Inpho

Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy won lightweight double gold during August at the World Rowing Championships in Ottensheim, Austria. Photograph: Detlev Seyb/Inpho

 

The first event of the season, the Irish Indoor Rowing Championships, has an entry packed with Olympic hopefuls. Some could also represent Ireland at the World Championships in August.

Six lightweight men with multiple medals are set to make their case at the University of Limerick on Saturday, January 25th.

The big prize of the year is a spot in the Ireland lightweight double for Tokyo in July. Paul O’Donovan, who has been prioritising his medical studies, may top the rankings, but who will be the man putting his hand up at this stage up to partner him?

Gary O’Donovan hopes to oust Fintan McCarthy, who was Paul’s partner as they won world gold in 2019 – remarkably, both Gary and Fintan travelled to Seville to train together before the Ireland camp there which finishes today (Friday). Shane O’Driscoll, Jake McCarthy and Mark O’Donovan are also contenders and are entered in Limerick.

Paul O’Donovan may go on from the Olympics to the World Championships for non-Olympic events in Slovenia and take gold in the lightweight single. With such an abundance of talent available, a lightweight quadruple might also target gold.

The Ireland heavyweight group returned from their camp in Italy this week. With the Olympic qualifiers coming up in the spring, the competition in the strong women’s group will be for places in a four, which could join the heavyweight single and pair in Tokyo.

Aoife Casey, Margaret Cremen, Cliodhna Nolan and Lydia Heaphy will be out to show that the quality is there for a lightweight double to hit the mark and qualify a boat for the Olympics.

Tom Kelly of Kenmare and Molly Curry of Coleraine Grammar School could be the top two junior rowers in Limerick. Curry, who wants to do dentistry at college, is holding college offers from the US at arms length and looking at colleges in Ireland and Britain.

The vista for top junior rowers is attractive this year, as the World Championships in Bled features junior and under-23 events alongside the senior, non-Olympic, programme.

The National Rowing Centre has been given funds to improve the course and slipping system through the the Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Funding.

The history of Irish rowing is logged online. When it comes to photographs, hundreds of pictures of championship winners and rowers who represented Ireland have been collected. If you can fill in the blanks, irishrowingarchives.com is the site to visit.

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