Rowing: Strong start for Sanita Puspure at Europeans

Pair of Ronan Byrne and Philip Doyle also powered to fine heat wins on day one

Sanita Puspure eased to a heat win on the first day of the European Rowing Championships in Lucerne. Photo: Inpho

Sanita Puspure eased to a heat win on the first day of the European Rowing Championships in Lucerne. Photo: Inpho

 

Sanita Puspure and the Ireland double of Ronan Byrne and Philip Doyle powered to fine heat wins on the first day of the European Championships in Lucerne this morning. For Gary O’Donovan, the picture was cloudier. In his first outing at international level in a lightweight single scull, he could only finish sixth in his heat and later just missed out on a semi-final spot by taking fourth in his repechage.

Puspure will aim to win gold at this regatta. Her first outing can be a tricky one for her at big events, but she had a built-in driver in her heat. Vicky Thornley, Britain’s top sculler, was across the course from her. Puspure and Thornley duly fought it out - until the closing stages when the Ireland sculler sprinted away to win by almost five seconds.

The first race involving an Ireland crew could hardly have gone better: it featured a storming win for the Ireland men’s double. Philip Doyle and Ronan Byrne are powerful men and form a potent combination - as the crews in their heat discovered. Romania were the only crew which fully tried to match the UCC/Belfast Boat Club combination, but they let them go at the end. They two crews qualified for the semi-finals.

It was a difficult debut for Gary O’Donovan in the lightweight single sculls. His got stuck at the back of the pack in his heat. He pushed into fifth in the middle of the race, but fell back again at the finish and took sixth. In his repechage, he took fourth, just one place outside qualification. O’Donovan, who was competing on his own as Paul O’Donovan has medical exams, is set for the C Final.

The ‘replacement’ lightweight double did very well. Fintan and Jake McCarthy staged a brilliant final sprint to take second in their heat and secure semi-final qualification. The Skibbereen twins were part of the pack through a race in which only the top two would go directly to the semis. In the last 500 metres Italy led from the Ukraine. But then the McCarthys sprinted - and took the vital second from the Ukraine by exactly a quarter of a second.

Lydia Heaphy and Denise Walsh are a new crew, but the two Skibbereen women showed maturity in taking third in their heat of lightweight double sculls. This secured them a semi-final place. Switzerland and Britain raced hard at the head of the field, finishing in that order, while the Ireland crew took a clear third ahead of Spain and Sweden.

European Championships, Lucerne, Day One (Irish interest)

Men

Double Sculls - Heat One (First Two to A/B Semi-Finals; rest to Repechages): 1 Ireland (P Doyle, R Byrne) 6:26.53, 2 Romania 6:29.62.

Lightweight Double Sculls - Heat Two (First Two to A/B Semi-Finals; rest to Repechages): 1 Italy (S Oppo, P Ruta) 6:14.73, 2 Ireland (J McCarthy, F McCarthy) 6:16.07; 3 Ukraine 6:16.32.

Lightweight Single Sculls - Heat One (First Two to A/B Semi-Finals; rest to Repechages): 1 Italy (M Goretti) 7:05.54, 2 Switzerland (J Schaeuble) 7:06.73; 6 Ireland (G O’Donovan) 7:34.73. Repechage One (First Three to A/B Semi-Finals; rest to C Final): 1 Norway 6:59.05, 2 Turkey 6:59.90, 3 Serbia 7:02.29; 4 Ireland (O’Donovan) 7:04.16.

Women

Single Sculls - Heat Three (First Two to A/B Semi-Finals; rest to Repechages): 1 Ireland (S Puspure) 7:30.65, Britain (V Thornley) 7:35.35

Lightweight Double Sculls - Heat Three (First Three to A/B Semi-Finals; rest to Repechages): 1 Switzerland 6:57.58, 2 Britain 6:58.61, 3 Ireland (D Walsh, L Heaphy) 7:14.55.

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