Tokyo 2020: ‘It hasn’t sunk in yet’ says father of bronze-winning rower

Four women take home first medals for Team Ireland from Tokyo Olympics

The team - Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty - won the first Olympic medal for the Irish in Tokyo 2020, and a first for Irish women’s rowing. Video: Reuters

 

The area in Co Galway between the Furbo home of Aifric Keogh’s family and that of her teammate Fiona Murtagh, has become an Olympic village, Ms Keogh’s father has said.

The pair were half of the four rowing crew who won Ireland’s first medal of the Tokyo Olympics. Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty won the bronze medal at the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo overnight.

The Keogh family watched the medal-winning performance in the women’s four final in Tokyo from their home in Furbo, Jim Keogh told RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet. It was scary for a while.”

The family stayed up until 5am watching the remainder of the rowing races and spoke to Aifric briefly, he said. “She was highly excited, they were still celebrating.”

In the past the family has always travelled to regattas, but could not travel to Japan because of Covid-19. “We lost out on the trip of a lifetime, but there will be other trips.”

Lockdown had not stopped training for the team who kept in touch via Zoom while also completing their own training routines. That was a benefit for the Keogh family as it meant Aifric lived at home for three months, training on the deck in a gym assembled by her father where she managed to break a world record for a half-marathon.

“It was very exciting to have her home during lockdown. This year we’ve seen her only once since Christmas,” said Mr Keogh. Prior to the Olympics, Ms Keogh and teammate Emily Hegarty were living and training full time in Cork.

Mr Keogh said that his daughter is “pretty calm” and would keep the team steady. He anticipated that she would be back home on Sunday.

President Michael D Higgins has led tributes to the team. Mr Higgins tweeted: “My congratulations to Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty as they win Ireland’s first medal at #Tokyo2020, claiming a well-deserved bronze medal in the women’s four.”

Taoiseach Micheál Martin also congratulated the four on Twitter. “The first medal for @TeamIreland at #Tokyo2020. Brilliant achievement by our women’s four, Emily Hegarty, Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe and Fiona Murtagh. You’ve made Cork, Dublin, Galway and the whole country very proud this morning.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney tweeted: “Wow. What a fantastic way to win Ireland’s first medals in #Tokyo2020 and our first ever women’s medals in rowing – brilliant athletes and even better people! So well done Emily, Aifric, Eimear and Fiona! #ProudtobeIrish”

Tokyo 2020

Full coverage of the Olympic Games in Japan READ MORE
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