The Irish rowing team has been given a heroes’ welcome after an historic performance at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Rowing Ireland and Cork County Council hosted a special homecoming at the Kinetica National Rowing Centre in Cork on Saturday.
The event, to celebrate the outstanding achievements of the high-performance athletes who represented their country so admirably at the games, was attended by An Taoiseach, Micheal Martin TD; Minister for Sport, Jack Chambers TD; and the Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr. Gillian Coughlan.
A record six crews qualified for Tokyo, which saw Rowing Ireland secure both bronze and gold medals. Fintan McCarthy and Paul O’Donovan won Ireland’s first-ever gold medal in rowing. The duo also broke a seven-year world record in their Lightweight Men’s Double semi-final.
Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty won bronze in the Women’s Four. It is the first-ever medal for an Irish women’s crew. In total, four Irish crews finished in the top ten, with two finishing just outside. Irish Rowing is now ranked above countries like the USA, Germany, Russia, Great Britain and Poland.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “The whole country is so proud of our Olympic rowing team following their historic achievements at the Tokyo games. Team Ireland provided the country with huge inspiration and excitement over the course of the games, lifting the spirits of the nation time and time again. In securing medals, and achieving many more excellent performances, Ireland’s rowers have once again proven that they can compete and succeed at the sport’s highest level. I would like to congratulate all members of the six crews who represented our country at the Olympic Games as well as the high-performance team, coaches, and administration of Rowing Ireland.”
The Mayor of County of Cork, Cllr. Gillian Coughlan added, “Each of the athletes here today has served a higher sporting purpose. Not only did they motivate men, women and children to get up in the middle of the night to watch their races, they inspired a whole new generation. The athletes and the entire team at Rowing Ireland showed what can be achieved with hard work and dedication. The location for this event too is truly fitting – the National Rowing Centre, designed to bring out the best in our athletes, and to help them be the best that they can be. We are very lucky that nature, and a dam, provided us with such an amazing amphitheatre for rowing and I am looking forward to many similar occasions here in the years to come.”
Speaking about the homecoming Rowing Ireland’s Chief Executive Officer, Michelle Carpenter said; “We are delighted to be able to celebrate all of Rowing Ireland’s Olympic athletes and their fantastic achievements in Tokyo. All of us at Rowing Ireland take immense pride in the performances of our high-performance athletes in what was a historic Olympics for our sport in this country. Tokyo 2020 saw the largest squad of Irish rowers in history and a record six crews qualifying for the games. To return with a gold and bronze medal including the first-ever Olympic medal that Ireland has won in a women’s team event is a testament to both the athletes and the people behind Rowing Ireland, the high-performance team, the coaches, the administration, the clubs, Sport Ireland, Sport NI and the Olympic Federation, and our wonderful partners that have supported us and the teams throughout. Their historic achievements undoubtedly deserve to be celebrated. I would also like to thank Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Minister for Sport Jack Chambers and The Mayor of County of Cork Gillian Coughlan for their support with the homecoming.”