The Skibbereen duo reproduced the best of their Olympic form to win the men’s lightweight double sculls at the World Championship Regatta in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. It is the first time that an Irish boat has ever won world championship gold in an Olympic event. The O’Donovans rowed an almost perfect race, positioning themselves in second place at the half-way mark, just a second behind the Italian crew who went off strongly to set the early pace.
“It is a pleasure to, once again, send my congratulations to Gary and Paul O’Donovan on winning a rowing medal.
They continue to inspire us, not only with this win at the World Rowing Championships but also with their mental and physical strength.”
— President of Ireland (@PresidentIRL) September 15, 2018
They pulled clear of Stefano Oppo and Pietro Ruta to lead heading into the final 500 metres, and from that point on, the result was never in doubt. Backed by a tailwind as they rowed from lane six, the O’Donovans clocked a blistering time that was within two seconds of the world best time which has stood since 2014. They looked to be easing up as they won comfortably in 6:06.81, with Italy second in 6:08.21. Bronze went to Belgium’s Tim Brys and Niels van Zandweghe in 6:11.25.
This is an enormous achievement by the O’Donovan Brothers & their coach, Dominic Casey & HP Director Antonio Maurogiovanni, along with the team of Sport Ireland Institute staff including Sharon Madigan & Sarah Jane McDonnell who have worked so hard to help them reach their goal of winning Rowing Ireland’s first ever World Rowing Championships gold medal in an Olympic category event!
Congratulations to Paul and Gary O'Donovan who are world champions after winning the gold medal in the Rowing World Championships in Bulgaria. You have done Skibb and Ireland proud Boyos! @skibbrowing @irishrowers #WestCorkhttps://t.co/tgQa3Q4fjT
— The Skibbereen Eagle (@theskibeagle) September 15, 2018
The Skibbereen duo looked comfortable throughout the 2km race and, as usual, finished strongly in the final 500m to secure the victory ahead of the Italian crew with Belgium in third. Following the race, the brothers admitted that it was one of their best-ever performances
— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) September 15, 2018
In typical O’Donovan style the lads claimed a night out on the town until the early hours set them up for victory. Norway were amongst the medal favourites too, but finished in fifth place after illness ruled Kristoffer Brun out of the race. Late substitute Jens Holm joined Are Strandli in the boat.
“One of the Norwegian crew got sick and they had to make a late substitution last night,” explained Gary. Paul takes up the story: “We were out on the town with them last night, but we were saying ‘big day tomorrow, we need to be on form’ so we headed away early, around 2am. By 3am Kristopher was buckled and they had to make the substitution then! Early this morning he was still hungover.”
All joking aside, the Skibbereen men say that this world final was their best ever race in technical and tactical terms. “We planned to win it all year, we’ve tried hard to win every race this year and we said the most important one would be the world championship,” said Gary. “We took our best strokes ever out there for 2,000m.”
Not bad for a small rowing club in a small town in the south west of Ireland but there again as we keep telling you Skibbereen is no ordinary small town and Skibbereen Rowing Club on the lovely River Ilen is no ordinary rowing club having a clutch of Olympic, European and now World rowing medals to its name.
And come to think of it West Cork is no ordinary place, it is a very special part of the world Boyo!
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