Shane O’ Driscoll and Mark O’ Donovan have won their fourth Gold medal of the 2017 season at the World Rowing Cup III Regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland, on Saturday 8th July. The reigning European Champions have now won Gold at all three World Cup events of the year in the lightweight men’s pair, an unprecedented feat for any Irish crew on the international stage. This is the final World Rowing regatta before the all-important World Rowing Championships, beginning on the 24th September in Florida.
The Skibbereen duo were not the quickest away from the start in the final, but never dropped below second place, and made their move coming into the second 1000m in a perfectly timed race. Overtaking Great Britain, who maintained the lead up to the halfway point, the Irish crew gained a boat-length advantage and were unreachable, leaving the remaining crews to battle it out for second and third. They crossed the finish line 2.28 seconds ahead of Russia, who produced a remarkable sprint to come from fourth in the final 500m, and Brazil held on for third after a steady performance throughout. O’ Donovan, quoted on the World Rowing website, said “Today was really good. After the test race, we had to really pull our socks up. We spoke to some of the others from the team and we got a good confidence booster from them for today.” Then attention turned to the three remaining Irish crews who were to race their respective finals on Sunday.
Up first was the women’s single sculls in which Sanita Puspure of Old Collegian’s Boat Club and Killorglin Rowing Club’s Monika Dukarska were to race the B Final, which would determine the 7th-12th overall placings. Puspure took up third position off the start and maintained a steady pace, until a push was required to hold off Denmark and Belarus in the final quarter with all three boats crossing the line within .66 of a second of each other. Puspure held on to third and takes a 9th overall position in a high-quality field. Dukarska followed in 6th place in just her second international event of the year, meaning 12th position overall having avoided Finals C, D and E. A strong performance to build on going forward into the remainder of the season.
Later on Sunday afternoon Skibbereen’s Gary and Paul O’ Donovan lined up to contest the A Final of the men’s lightweight double sculls. The top three crews finished almost as they began, with 2016 World Cup winners France taking up an early lead and sustaining it, as Italy remained close behind in second. The O’ Donovan brothers crept up from fourth to third before reaching the halfway mark, and despite challenges from Belgium upped the pace coming to the finish to secure a Bronze medal, their third medal of the season so far having already won European Silver and also at World Cup II. The O’ Donovan’s now look towards the World Rowing Championships, where they will look to narrow the margins even further in an ever-challenging field. Paul O’ Donovan said, “That was the hardest race to date. We were a bit disappointed as we only had two races last time and we had four this weekend so we got to stretch our legs a bit. We have some ground to make up on French and we’ll go back with our coach and talk about that.”