It’s been a very positive finish to the 2022 racing season with four medals at the World Championships, three of them being in Olympic boat classes. As we begin to look forward to next year and Olympic qualification, the performances from this week put us in a strong position.
It is a predominantly young team, with both the athletes and coaches having learned a lot from the races this week. This will help us to move forward into the 2023 racing season.
This year thirteen crews were entered, one of the largest teams sent to a Rowing World Championships for Ireland. This is a testament to the growth and capability of the team.
Six crews qualified for the A Finals (top six), three for B Finals (top 12), three in the C Finals (top 18) and one in the D Finals (top 24). A few new crew combinations, and a number of younger athletes raced this week. As we continue to push forward with training, we hope to see further athlete development, an increase in the number of crews falling into the top 12 spots, and to continue to push for the medal positions.
Much work is still needed to be done within the Para program. The determination of Katie and Steven with their coach is admirable. A sustainable and resourced program needs to be planned and implemented, which must include a Para talent identification plan and a club‘s and coaches’ development strategy.
Being able to field this number of crews and continue to perform at a high level is something that we are proud of, and I hope we will be able to consolidate the system in the coming years.
It has been a positive year for Ireland. In the U23 World Championships, we achieved four medals (one silver and three bronze with one World record), two medals at Senior Europeans (gold and silver), six medals at the World Cup II (one gold, two silver, three bronze), one medal at World Cup III (gold) and now two gold and two bronze medals at Senior Worlds.
It has been no easy task, and I invite all clubs and the directors of the board, to seriously consider the change of the domestic calendar to assist us in strengthening the system for years to come. We aim to continue this success going forward, and an appropriate allocation of the Championships is imperative at this point for the best interest of the clubs and athletes.
Since the European Championships, we have been on camp in Italy and Spain, and this training block has allowed us to make further progress with crews. Both coaches and athletes have been away from home for a number of weeks, which is a big commitment, but has definitely stood to the crews when it came to racing this week.
We did well and I am sure we could do better.
We all know this was a post Olympic cycle year, with a non-optimal preparation for many of our athletes. Some of them fairly focused on their other personal commitments such as university, work, etc. 2023 is the Olympic Qualification year and an optimal preparation is necessary. It is now the time to rest, review all the results with the HP coaches and staff, and identify the areas of improvement.
Thank you to all coaches, athletes, clubs and families for the support and commitment to this program, and to Sport Ireland and Sport Northern Ireland for supporting us. It is an invaluable aid for the coaches and athletes.
Well done to all of the athletes and coaches for strong performances throughout the season, and especially to the medal winners.
A massive thank you to the Team Manager, Team Physio, Media officer and volunteer drivers for all the hard work and long hours over the last few weeks. The support to athletes and coaches has been incredible, and we could not do this without you.
The continued support from all of our sponsors, our board of directors, CEO and staff has helped us to achieve these results, so again thank you.
Finally, thank you to all of the friends, families and supporters who came out to the Championships this week. The support was greatly appreciated and did not go unnoticed.