It’s gold and two silvers for Ireland in the 2023 U23 World Championships.

All crews pulled out all of the stops in today’s A Finals and were rewarded with three podiums out of the four boats. The lightweight men’s double were extremely unlucky, catching a last minute crab to drop them out of the medals.

Brian Colsh and Konan Pazzaia are the 2023 U23 World Champions in the men’s double sculls, winning the first U23 World’s gold medal for Ireland in an Olympic class boat. Last year this duo won bronze and have successfully made the upgrade to gold today. Racing like their semi-final, Colsh and Pazzaia went out fast taking an early lead ahead of the field. Once their bow was ahead there was no stopping Ireland as they charged to the line, consistently sitting as the fastest boat on the water. The U23 World Championships is a good indicator of the athletes to keep an eye on when progressing into the senior categories, and there’s no doubt that these two athletes are only at the beginning of their international successes.

The County Cork scullers, Andrew Sheehan and Alison Bergin both put on an exceptional show bagging silver medals. With a conservative start, Sheehan sat in third position while Piotr Plominski of Poland took a commanding lead. Andrew always stayed in touch with the group but coming into the final 500m he kicked into gear increasing his stroke rate to 40 strokes per minute. He broke through the Portuguese sculler and reduced the margin between himself and Plominski with every stroke he took finishing just 0.71 of a second behind the gold medallist. Last year Sheehan won bronze in the men’s four. To be able to come back a year later swapping disciplines, and going one further to win silver in the single scull shows huge calibre from the athlete.

Alison Bergin of Fermoy Rowing Club also upgraded her 2022 medal from a bronze to a silver this year. Bergin held her composure through the middle of the race, relying on that sprint finish that Ireland are very well known for. Moving from fifth to third position in the first 1500m of the race, there was no holding her back when it came to a fight for silver in the final quarter. There was no boat holding Bergin’s pace as they closed into the line, as she gained on the Swiss sculler Aurelia-Maxima Katharina Janzen. In the end Janzen held on to the lead that she had put down early in the race and it was second in the world for Alison Bergin.

The lightweight men’s double of Ciaran Purdy (Queen’s University Belfast BC) and Rory O’Neill (University of Limerick RC) just missed out on the medals finishing in fourth place. Ireland sat in sixth position through the half way mark but it was not the time to fear yet as all weekend it’s been the second 1000m that they have been picking up their real speed. Moving through that point the lightweight men started on their move towards the top places. With 300m to go Ireland put themselves in bronze position and were actively gaining on Spain for that silver spot. 50m out from the line disaster struck Purdy and O’Neill when they caught a boat stopping crab pulling them back out of the podium positions. After a medal worthy performance it’s fourth that they’ll have to settle with.

“The team showed some incredible performances today and are coming away with well deserved gold and silver medals. To be U23 World Champions in an Olympic boat class is hugely motivating for the years ahead.” said High Performance Director, Antonio Maurogiovanni. “Last year we won a silver and three bronze medals, this year we have improved again picking up gold and two silvers with a close 4th place.”

“The lightweight double were unfortunate not to make the medals but had an excellent performance finishing in the top end of their boat class. Our U23’s are a testament to the strength that our entire high performance squad has and it’s great to see them up on the podium year after year. A big thanks to all the athletes, families, clubs, coaches and staff.”

Ireland Results

  • BM2x – Brian Colsh, Konan Pazzaia – GOLD
  • BM1x – Andrew Sheehan – SILVER
  • BW1x – Alison Bergin – SILVER
  • BLM2x – Ciaran Purdy, Rory O’Neill – 4th