Rowing Ireland had four boats competing in the Tokyo Olympic Games this morning, including the Women’s Four, who took home bronze medals in their A Final, the first Irish female rowers in history to do so. Rowing returned after two days of poor weather, leading to a cancelation of rowing on days four and five.
When Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty qualified for the Olympics at the very last chance in Lucerne two months ago, few would have predicted that they might go on to challenge the established nations in women’s fours.
But second place in Saturday’s heats placed them right alongside pre-race favourites Australia and the Netherlands, and although Poland took the early lead it was the Dutch and the Aussies who shared the lead throughout the middle of the 2000m race. Inside the last 500m Great Britain and China were sharing third, until Hegarty upped the rate to 43, and the crew responded, timing their attack to perfection. While Australia struck the killer blow to take gold ahead of the Netherlands, Ireland came storming back from fifth place to blow away China and GB and claim the bronze.
Fintan McCarthy and Paul O’Donovan let themselves be led by the fast starting Italians in their semifinal of the lightweight double sculls, and after 500m there was half a length between the crews. But Ireland’s world champions then launched a sustained attack to lead Italy by half a canvas at 1000m, and the two crews had clear water on the rest of the field.
McCarthy and O’Donovan pushed on to cross the line rating 40, and led Italy by more than a length lead as they qualified for tomorrow’s final together with third-placed Belgium. Ireland’s time of 6 mins 5.33 secs shaved just 0.03 sec off the previous best time set by South Africa at the world championships in 2014.
In the Women’s Pair, Monika Dukarska and Aileen Crowley placed 5th. In a burst for the line the young Greek crew of Maria Kyridou and Christina Bourmpou charged through the pack to take the win ahead of Great Britain and Canada, leaving Ireland trailing in fifth.
In the lightweight women’s doubles Imogen Grant and Emily Craig of Great Britain were trading punches with the Netherlands’ Mareike Keijser and Ilse Paulis, leaving Ireland’s Aiofe Casey and Margaret Cremen in the trailing pack. France’s Laura Tarantola and Claire Bove then broke free to challenge the leaders and Ireland prepared to get stuck it, but by then the three leaders had an unassailable advantage. Great Britain qualified ahead of the Netherland and third-placed France, with Ireland fifth.
Both the women’s pair and the lightweight women’s double will now contest tomorrow’s B finals for places 7-12.
In today’s B final for the men’s double scull Ronan Byrne and Phil Doyle made amends for disappointment in the earlier rounds and were right in contention behind the ROC and New Zealand until the final 250m. Despite Doyle raising the rate to 42 the Romanians proved stronger and beat Ireland to third place (and 9th overall) by just 0.03 sec, with Ronan and Phil placing fourth, an overall standing of 10th.
- Women’s Four (W4-) – Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Emily Hegarty & Fiona Murtagh – 3RD – BRONZE MEDAL – 06:20.46
- Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x) – Fintan McCarthy & Paul O’Donovan – 1st – 06:05.33
- Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x) – Margaret Cremen & Aoife Casey – 5th – 06:49.24
- Women’s Pair (W2-) Monika Dukarska & Aileen Crowley – 5th – 07:06.07
- Men’s Double Sculls (M2x) – Ronan Byrne & Philip Doyle – 4th – 06:16.89
Upcoming Irish Races
Thursday 29th (IST)
- Women’s Pair (W2-) Monika Dukarska & Aileen Crowley – 00:40
- Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x) – Margaret Cremen & Aoife Casey – 01:00
- Lightweight Men;s Double Sculls (LM2x) – Fintan McCarthy & Paul O’Donovan – 01:50
- Women’s Single Sculls (W1x) – Sanita Puspure – 02:30
Full coverage of the Olympic Games will be available live on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player from 1:30am each night. Rowing highlights will also feature on RTÉ2 at 9am and 7pm.
Extensive results will be covered on Rowing Ireland’s website and social channels throughout the week.