Rowing: Women’s four moving in right direction towards Tokyo
Lydia Heaphy impresses with semi-final slot at World Championships
The primary aim for Ireland’s rowers this season is to qualify boats for Tokyo 2020 and the international women’s four made a big move in that direction with a pugnacious performance and a fine second place in their repechage at the World Rowing Championships in Linz, Austria on Tuesday.
This put them into the A/B semi-finals – the top 12 in a class where eight will book Olympic places for their boats. Tara Hanlon, Eimear Lambe, Aifric Keogh and Emily Hegarty knew a top-three place would do. China and Italy held the top two spots early on and it seemed that the key battle would be between Russia and Ireland behind them.
However, the Ireland crew – with all but the experienced Keogh under-23 athletes – had other ideas. They moved in the third quarter, and then again in the final one to take out Russia, pass Italy and close on China. They overlapped the winners at the end. This looked very positive for a new crew. It also brought the tally of Olympic boats still on course to contend for Tokyo places to six.
Lydia Heaphy claimed a notable scalp as she qualified for the semi-finals of the lightweight single sculls. Heaphy, 21, and only competing in big international events for the fourth time, took on and beat the experienced Emma Fredh of Sweden (29) for the third qualification place in the repechage. Fredh was the European champion in 2017.
In true Skibbereen style, Heaphy also sprinted for the line and almost took second.
The young lightweight quadruple of Hugh Sutton, Miles Taylor, Ryan Ballantine and Jake McCarthy came out the wrong side of the qualification line in their bid to reach the A final. They took fifth in a close finish of a race won by the Netherlands. The Irish crew will race in the B Final.
WORLD ROWING CHAMPIONSHIPS
Linz, Austria: Day three (Irish interest)
Men Lightweight quadruple sculls – Repechage (first four to A final; rest to B final): 5 Ireland (H Sutton, M Taylor, R Ballantine, J McCarthy) 5:58.99.
Four – Repechage One (first three to A/B semi-final; rest to C final): 2 Ireland (T Hanlon, E Lambe, A Keogh, E Hegarty) 6:35.14. Lightweight Single – repechage two (first three to A/B semi-final; rest to C final): 3 Ireland (L Heaphy) 7:48.40.