Gold and Silver for Ireland at 2017 World Rowing Cup II

Rowing Ireland have added to their 2017 medal haul with two medals at World Cup II in Poznan, Poland.

Finals day at World Rowing Cup II saw much better rowing conditions at Lake Malta in Poznan, Poland, with warm weather and calm waters following two days of wind and rain. Rowing Ireland had four boats racing today, beginning with the newly formed women’s pair of Aifric Keogh (UCC) and Aileen Crowley (UCD), who took an 8th overall position at the event following a second place finish in the B Final this morning. This was shortly followed by Sanita Puspure (Old Collegians) and Monika Dukarska (Killorglin) who were both competing in the B Final of the women’s single sculls, having each missed out narrowly on A Final qualification in the semi-finals yesterday. Today, they lined out side by side in lanes three and four against scullers from Germany, Austria and two from the US, with Puspure crossing the line first after leading the pack from the early stages and finishing 7th place overall. Next was USA’s Meghan O’ Leary followed by Dukarska in third, placing the Killorglin sculler 9th overall.

Finally today was Ireland’s lightweight men’s double, Gary and Paul O’ Donovan (Skibbereen/UCD), who claimed Silver in a battle with rivals France and Poland. The 2016 Olympic Champions, France, and the Olympic silver medallists, Ireland won their respective heats two days ago meaning direct qualification. Today they met for the first time at this regatta with the French double having the fastest start, however the race remained tight up to the halfway point with each of the six crews separated by the narrowest of margins. The battling crews then began to make their moves and China moved into second with France’s Azou and Houin, at 38 strokes per minute, striding away from the rest of the field. In the third 500m Paul and Gary O’Donovan showed their speed and took over second place, but the Chinese were hanging on. Poland put in a huge final push to eventually snatch third however, with Ireland’s O’ Donovan brothers in second and France taking the Gold by just under three seconds.

The O’ Donovan’s Silver medal brings Ireland’s medal tally to two at the second World Cup event of the year, following Mark O’ Donovan and Shane O’ Driscoll’s Gold medal in the final of the lightweight men’s pair on Saturday. This was the Irish pair’s third Gold medal of 2017 having won their event at World Cup I last month as well as becoming European champions a couple of weeks later. With only three entries in this particular event, a medal was all but guaranteed, but this cannot take from the immense performance required to come out on top and shows consistent form. The Skibbereen rowers lead from start to finish beating Great Britain and Brazil convincingly.

Yesterday Denise Walsh took a strong third place finish in her A/B semi-final, which was the minimum required to progress. This put her in a good position to compete for a medal in the A final on the same day, however she found the pace too quick here and dropped behind early in the race, eventually finishing in 6th position overall. Another excellent campaign by the Skibbereen sculler however, who has reached the A Final in all three international events so far this year and medalled in two; Silver at World Cup I and Silver at the European Championships last month.

Well done to all six Irish crews at World Cup II in Poznan on such positive performances, and we now look ahead to the third and final World Cup event of 2017 in Lucerne in 3 weeks’ time.

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