A crew formed in the last three weeks provided the highlight for the Ireland team at the World Cup regatta in Munich. Lisa Dilleen, a 19-year-old Galway woman, and 29-year-old Latvian Sanita Puspure showed real class to reach the A Final of the double scull – an Olympic event – and they finished their campaign yesterday with a fighting fifth place.
On the debit side for Ireland was the withdrawal due to illness of the women’s lightweight double scull from yesterday’s B Final.
Difficulties in making the weight left the crew of Siobhán McCrohan and Claire Lambe underpowered in the semi-final on Saturday and they could only finish sixth.
But yesterday’s withdrawal was due to “illness”, according to Ireland performance director Martin McElroy.
Dilleen and Puspure, however, had a really fine race in their semi-final. They disputed second place with Romania down the course, and secured it in the closing stages.
In yesterday’s final, however, Romania got some revenge, passing tiring Ireland in the closing stages to take fourth in a race where favourites Britain, the United States and Belarus moved away from the field to take the medals in that order.
Puspure competed internationally for Latvia at underage, but has long been settled in Ireland and is awaiting Irish citizenship. She said she and Dilleen had not been expecting to reach the A Final.
“We were focusing more on having a good row every time and just pushing the boundaries; checking how far we could go. That brought us to the A Final, which is great.
“Today, we were just a bit tired from the weekend, but I think we did great overall, considering we have had just a few weeks in the boat. I think it is a great achievement.”
The combination with Dilleen – an outstanding junior athlete and a B Finalist at the World Under-23 Championships last year – has worked well.
“It’s getting better and better with every race. It’s good fun!” concluded Puspure, who can compete for Ireland without a passport in the World Cups, but must possess one if she is to represent her adopted country in the World Championships in August and September.
This is the regatta at which Ireland can qualify boats for next year’s Olympic Games.
Ireland’s third Olympic-class crew in Munich, the men’s lightweight double scull, finished sixth in their B Final yesterday.
This placed Mark O’Donovan and Niall Kenny 12th at this major senior regatta.
Both are just 22, and Kenny completed his UCC examinations at the venue.
Ireland’s adaptive coxed four finished fifth in their A Final, while in the lightweight single scull – an “international” event – Michael Maher finished fifth in his B Final, 11th overall.
Report by Liam Gorman : Irish Times Monday 30th May