Skibbereen ‘pulls out all the stops’ ahead of Olympic rowing final

Mother of O’Donovan brothers ‘gutted’ to not be in Tokyo to watch son, Paul, compete

Ireland’s Fintan Mc Carthy and Paul O’Donovan react at the end of the men’s lightweight double sculls semi-final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on July 28th, 2021. Photograph: Charly Triballeau/ AFP via Getty Images

Ireland’s Fintan Mc Carthy and Paul O’Donovan react at the end of the men’s lightweight double sculls semi-final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on July 28th, 2021. Photograph: Charly Triballeau/ AFP via Getty Images

 

Trish O’Donovan, mother of Olympic Silver medallists Paul and Gary, normally sets the alarm for the middle of the night rowing heats at the Olympics games in Tokyo.

However, she is making an exception by staying up until 1.45am on Thursday morning, when Paul and fellow rower Fintan McCarthy will take to the water for the men’s lightweight doubles sculls final.

Ms O’Donovan admits she and her husband Mick would love to have travelled to Japan having made the journey from Skibbereen in West Cork to the Rio Olympic Games five years ago. She is “gutted” not to be at the final.

“We would love to be there. It is such a shame because we have such a strong contingent from Skibbereen there participating. I am going up to bed for a nap now but with the final I am going to stay up.

“The boys are looking excellent but you just don’t know. Look at the poor Norwegians and what happened to them in the semi.”

Ms O’Donovan says the pandemic has not had a hugely detrimental impact on the training of the Irish rowers, especially when compared with athletes involved in other sports.

“They were still able to train. They were able to do what they do and get on the river.”

Ms O’Donovan said there has been a “huge effort in the town” to get behind the Skibbereen rowers.

“People have really pulled out all the stops. It is very colourful with all the banners. We will be watching it at home. It is a bit strange to be watching it at home and then going to bed!”

Ms O’Donovan said the humidity has been “terrible” for the Irish rowers and they miss mixing with other countries at the Olympics.

“They can’t mix with other countries. I would say they will be glad to see other people when they get home.”

Skibbereen is awash with flags and banners as seven rowers from the town are representing Ireland in Tokyo this year, including Gary O’Donovan, who is a reserve team member.

Trish is proud of the strides that Irish rowing has made in recent years. In 2012 Ireland only had one boat which qualified for the Olympics.

“They qualified three in 2016 and now this year there are six boats. To go from one to six is unbelievable.”

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