This weekend the Irish international team rowers are staying at the 2012 Olympic accommodation at Royal Holloway, while the men’s crews will compete at Marlow Regatta at Dorney Lake (the Olympic venue), and the women take on Henley Women’s Regatta.
The Ireland management team opted to compete there rather than at the World Cup in Hamburg . Its turned out to be a clever move as a number of international teams, including Britain, have decided to miss out on the World Cup because of the recent e-coli outbreak, and are looking to find competition between now and the third World Cup next month.
At Women’s Henley, Portora teenager Holly Nixon joins senior internationals Éimear Moran, Lisa Dilleen and Sanita Puspure in a quadruple scull, while Puspure and Dilleen reform the double which made the final at the first World Cup in Munich.
Siobhán McCrohan and Claire Lambe form a second double, and McCrohan is entered in the lightweight single scull.
The men’s crews at Marlow also feature a quadruple, two doubles and a single, with Anthony English competing in the single and teaming up with Jonathan Mitchell in a double scull. Mark O’Donovan and Michael Maher form what could be a very competitive double.
Ireland’s best hopes at Henley Royal Regatta may centre on the Visitors’ Cup for club fours.
On the outskirts of Cork, the National Rowing Centre now has a purpose-built gymnasium and a big collection of ergometers (rowing machines). A chef has been employed for the 10 days and athletes will be given three meals a day.
The performance director of Irish rowing, Martin McElroy, says they are spending “considerably less” than what was spent under previous regimes. “What’s going on here at the moment in the past would have been run somewhere else and would have been 10 times the cost. Ten times the cost for probably a third of the people.”
The Irish Rowing squads are backboned by under-23 athletes as most of the previous Games crews are no longer involved.