National rowing teams from 69 nations have travelled to Sarasota-Bradenton in Florida, USA to compete in the 2017 World Rowing Championships. This is the most important rowing event of 2017 and over 900 athletes will be competing for the title of World Champion. World Rowing have confirmed that the Championships will proceed as planned as Hurricane Irma damage in the Sarasota area was limited, and preparations for the event beginning on 24th September and running until 1st October are underway.
Unfortunately, one of Ireland’s top medal hopes – the men’s lightweight double sculls crew of Gary and Paul O’ Donovan – will not feature. The absence of the Olympic silver medal winning Irish double is due to the withdrawal of Gary O’Donovan because of illness, leaving his brother Paul to race in the lightweight men’s single sculls. However, expectations will remain high for Paul in the single, not least due to the fact that he is the reigning World Champion.
Skibbereen’s Mark O’ Donovan and Shane O’ Driscoll will compete once again in the lightweight men’s pair, rounding off an incredible year for the crew. They remain unbeaten in this category across the three World Cup events of 2017, as well as obtaining the title of European Champions, and will be aiming to top off a season of unprecedented results with a World title. A newly formed heavyweight men’s pair of Patrick Boomer (Belfast Rowing Club) and Fionnan McQuillan-Tolan (NUIG) will also compete, as well as a women’s equivalent in the shape of Aileen Crowley (UCD) and Aifric Keogh (UCC). The two remaining women’s crews are double Olympian Sanita Puspure of Old Collegians in the women’s single sculls, and 2017 European silver medallist Denise Walsh from Skibbereen in the women’s lightweight single.
Coaches Dominic Casey and Sean Casey, as well as Team Manager Susan Dunlea, accompany the Team.
Rowing Ireland CEO Hamish Adams is looking forward to the Irish team’s performances:
We have high expectations for our team of six crews in Sarasota, whilst it is disappointing to lose Gary to illness in the Olympic class lightweight double, it is a bonus that Paul will get to defend his World title in the lightweight single. Shane and Mark are also strong medal prospects in the non-Olympic lightweight pair but we are also very focussed on the development of heavyweight crews with the recent loss of the Olympic lightweight four boat category. The Men’s and Women’s pairs represent our commitment to this process and we are excited to see these two crews competing alongside Sanita. All in all we are very positive about Irish rowing and our strength continues to grow on the international scene.
RTÉ have confirmed that there will be live coverage of the event from Thursday 28th September on RTÉ2. Joe Stack will be joined in studio by Neville Maxwell and Sinead Lynch (née Jennings), with commentary from Ger Canning and Sam Lynch. Evanne Ni Chuillin will also be reporting from Sarasota.
Coverage begins at the following times:
- Thursday 28th Sept: 3:00pm
- Friday 29th Sept: 4:30pm
- Saturday 30th Sept: 4:30pm
- Sunday 1st Oct: 3:30pm
- Sunday 1st Oct: 8:00pm (Highlights)
Rowing Ireland would like to wish the entire Irish Rowing Team the best of luck and safe racing in this the biggest test of the season, following a year of exceptional results for Irish rowing across the board. Our athletes have produced many memorable performances on the world stage to date and there is undoubtedly more to come.