The O’Donovan brothers, Paul and Gary, continued their startling rise in Olympic year by taking on and beating former world champions Norway, building on the momentum of the silver medal they won at the World Cup in Italy last month.
The day got even better later for Ireland in Brandenburg, Germany when Sanita Puspure took a bronze medal in the women’s single sculls. Ireland finished sixth in the medals table.
On Saturday, the O’Donovans had sprinted past Germany to win their semi-final. It was their first time to beat the Germans, and Paul spoke afterwards of how he was looking forward to “having a crack at” Norway.
The key aim is to produce the best performance at the Olympic Games, and this regatta was a good testing ground for a crew that trains in Skibbereen and is used to going out in all sorts of conditions. “That has really paid dividends for us,” said O’Donovan. “We hear that the wind picks up out in Rio, so it could be beneficial to us out there.”
Puspure’s next challenge is the Olympic qualification regatta at Lucerne, which starts on Sunday, May 22nd. She said the bronze was “not the colour I wanted”, but to get down the course among the leaders as waves washed into her boat was an achievement in itself. “It was actually tougher than it looked. It was a bit ridiculous, to be honest.”
Mark O’Donovan and Shane O’Driscoll put in a good finish to pass Germany and take fourth in the lightweight men’s pair. The gold went to Britain, represented by Sam Scrimgeour and Coleraine man Joel Cassells. Ireland had qualified for the final with a fine performance which saw them take second to Denmark in the repechage on Saturday.
Denise Walshwon the repechage of the lightweight single sculls on Saturday and also acquitted herself well in difficult conditions in the final. She was fifth through much of the race but put in a good last quarter to take fourth. Anja Noske of Germany managed the rough water best and took gold.
Sinéad Jennings and Claire Lambe, in the women’s lightweight double, finished ninth overall, third in the B final. They could only finish fifth in their semi-final on Saturday.