Sanita Puspure dominates her heat in Bulgaria

Her winning time was the fastest of the day at the World Rowing Championships

Ireland’s Sanita Puspure on the way to winning her heat. Photograph: Detlev Seyb/Inpho

Ireland’s Sanita Puspure on the way to winning her heat. Photograph: Detlev Seyb/Inpho

 

Sanita Puspure has not competed since the final World Cup Regatta at Lucerne in July. The Ireland single sculler chose to miss the European Championships in order to be in peak form for the World Championships. On the evidence of Monday’s first outing in the heats, she is in good shape.

The 36-year-old finished so far ahead of nearest rival, Fie-Udby Erichsen, that the Dane hardly seemed to be in the same race. The first 500 metres was a platform for Puspure to build a four-second lead; it was seven by halfway, over 14 by the finish. Erichsen took a silver medal in this event at the Olympic Games in 2012.

Puspure’s time of 7:25.78 was the fastest of the day. The world champion, Jeannine Gmelin of Switzerland, clocked 7:33.83 in winning her heat. In Lucerne, Gmelin held Puspure off in the dash for the line – by a quarter of a second. The semi-finals (Friday) and final (Sunday) should be interesting.

But, of course, nothing has been decided yet.

Dave McGowan, the coach who has been working with Puspure under high performance director Antonio Maurogiovanni was pleased but cautious: “She did a great job. Now the real racing starts,” he told The Irish Times.

The other positive result of the day for the Ireland team came from Shane O’Driscoll and Mark O’Donovan. The lightweight champions who abdicated from that grade in order to take on the Olympic-class challenge of the heavyweight pair had to find their way through a repechage to make the quarter-finals (top 24) in the pair.

The bar was not high: the top four of five qualified. The Ireland crew raced hard and gave long-time leaders the Netherlands a proper test. They finished a close-up second.

The new Ireland lightweight men’s quadruple took third in their heat. There are 11 crews in this event, so the heat winner qualified directly for the final. Italy took up the challenge with aplomb. Ireland’s young crew of twins Jake and Fintan McCarthy, Ryan Ballantine and Andrew Goff will have to contest a repechage.

The women’s double of Monika Dukarska and Aileen Crowley started well in their heat but faded back in the middle and finished sixth. The first two crews, Canada and the Netherlands, progressed to the semi-finals. Dukarska and Crowley face into a repechage, also on Wednesday.

Today’s racing sees another of the Ireland women’s crews get their chance to take hold of their destiny. The Ireland lightweight double scull of Aoife Casey (19) and Denise Walsh (25) has the combination of youthful enthusiasm and a more practiced hand which is proving successful in a number of international crews.

However, the Skibbereen women were off the pace in their heat on Sunday. At 8:57 am today, Irish time, they take on a challenge which can launch them into the semi-finals. A top-two placing in the repechage is needed. It will not be easy. Switzerland’s Patricia Merz and Frederique Rol will almost certainly take one spot, leaving it up to Casey (daughter of coach Dominic) and Walsh to finish ahead of Austria, Japan, Egypt and Spain.

World Rowing Championships, Plovdiv, Bulgaria, Day Two (Irish interest)

Men

Pair - Repechage (Four to Quarter-Finals): The Netherlands 6:34.68 2 Ireland (M O’Donovan, S O’Driscoll) 6:36.29, 3 Brazil 6:41.66, 4 Bulgaria 6:42.81.

Lightweight Quadruple Sculls- Heat Two (First to A Final; rest to Repechage): 1 Italy 5:48.03; 3 Ireland (F McCarthy, R Ballantine, J McCarthy, A Goff) 5:53.43.

Women

Double Sculls - Heat One (First Two to A/B Semi-Final; rest to Repechage): 1 Canada 6:54.02, 2 Netherlands 6:55.57; 6 Ireland (M Dukarska, A Crowley) 7:08.79.

Single Sculls - Heat One (Winner to A/B Semi-Finals; rest to Repechage): 1 Ireland (S Puspure) 7:25.78; 2 Denmark 7:39.93.

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